Archive for Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City helps resolve dispute over rural resident’s target practice

August 21, 2012


For a dispute that centered on a man shooting a gun, this one ended without much drama.

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday stepped in to settle a dispute involving city residents who live next to a rural property owner who was frequently conducting target practice with a .22 rifle on his property.

A group of about 30 residents who live in the River Bend Court and the Sunchase Drive area in northern Lawrence had petitioned to have the rural home of Alan Cobb, 1742 E. 1350 Road, annexed into the city in order to make firing of a firearm illegal.

But commissioners instead received assurances from Cobb that he would stop firing on his property, and that the city would send a letter to the Douglas County Commission asking it to place an abatement on the property making it illegal to shoot there because of its proximity to multiple homes.

“I basically have given up my right in order to appease everybody because I’m not trying to start any trouble,” Cobb said.

Residents of the neighborhood said they would drop their request for annexation if the County Commission would take formal action to place an order on the property making it clear that target shooting wasn’t allowed.

A letter from the Douglas County Sheriff’s office indicated such an abatement could be placed on the property using a county nuisance ordinance that is on the books. The sheriff’s department notified Cobb of the nuisance law about a week ago, and the department said it appears Cobb has not conducted target practice on the property since then.

Neighbors in the area said they just wanted the shooting to stop.

“I have no problem with Mr. Cobb shooting a gun,” said John Barnett, a neighbor to the property. “But when I shoot a gun, I shoot it at a range or at a place where there is no one around. We’re not angry; we just want something resolved.”

The area where Cobb was shooting targets is a little less than 100 yards away from other residences, according to information from the sheriff’s department. Cobb was using hay bales as a backstop for the makeshift range, and the area also has a tree line that separates the houses.

Cobb said he wouldn’t object to any action the county took, as long as the county didn’t try to create a broader ordinance that made it illegal for other rural property owners to shoot targets on their land.

City commissioners said they had no intention of asking county commissioners to consider such an action.

“We just want to put the neighborhood at ease that there won’t be firearms out there,” Mayor Bob Schumm said.

Cobb said he wished his neighbors simply would have brought their concerns to his attention rather than trying to force him into the city limits against his will.

“Anybody from the neighborhood could have come up and talked to me, and we could have figured this out,” Cobb said. “I’m not unapproachable."

Recreation center debate postponed

Lawrence city commissioners went into a 45-minute executive session with city attorneys at their Tuesday evening meeting, and then emerged to announce they were delaying plans to debate a proposed recreation center for at least a week.

Commissioners announced that they were now scheduled to hear a rezoning request and other issues related to a proposed youth fieldhouse/recreation complex at Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway at their Sept. 4 meeting.

Previously commissioners had planned to hear the recreation center items at their Aug. 28 meeting. Commissioners did not provide any details about what they discussed in the executive session or why they decided to delay the recreation center items.

City OKs new fund transfer policy

Commissioners unanimously agreed to a new policy that spells out how the city can transfer funds by city ratepayers into the city’s general operating account.

In 2012, the city is scheduled to transfer more than $3 million from its water/sewer, trash and storm water utility funds into the city’s general operating fund. The transfer is meant to account for costs other city departments incur while assisting the various city utilities.

The new policy, among other items, allows the city to charge the city utilities an amount that is equal to what they would pay in property taxes if they were a private, for-profit utility.

Members of the Lawrence Home Builders Association and the Lawrence Board of Realtors objected to the policy. Both groups asked the city to do more detailed cost accounting to show how much other city departments are spending on matters related to the utility departments.

But commissioners said such an accounting process likely would be complicated and costly in itself. Instead, commissioners indicated they would have the city auditor periodically audit the amount of transfers being made from ratepayer funds to the city’s general fund.

$75,000 for library art project approved

Commissioners unanimously agreed to accept proposals for $75,000 worth of public art for the Lawrence Public Library expansion.

A city-appointed group is scheduled to review the proposals in early October.

Changes to development regulations to be studied

Commissioners unanimously agreed to ask the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission to consider a host of changes to development regulations.

One change would eliminate the requirement that a private consultant be hired to conduct a retail market study for projects that would add at least 50,000 square feet of new retail space to the city.

The other change would make it clear that the city could approve rezoning requests even if those requests don’t comply with Horizon 2020, the city and county’s comprehensive plan.

The League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County voiced objections to the proposed changes but were reassured by commissioners that Tuesday’s actions only started the process of studying the issues.

Action on downtown directory sign delayed

Commissioners delayed taking action on a request to allow a new downtown directory sign to be built at the northeast corner of Ninth and Massachusetts streets.

Commissioners expressed concern about the project after learning that the directory was designed to list only members of Downtown Lawrence Inc.

The directory is being proposed and would be maintained by Downtown Lawrence Inc.

But commissioners said that because the sign would be located on a public right-of-way, there needed to be more thought to how the sign could feasibly include all businesses in downtown.


DillonBarnes 3 years ago

Was he shooting towards the houses?

Chad Lawhorn 3 years ago

I think there are houses on pretty much all sides of him. Here's a link to his property, as provided by the city.

DRsmith 3 years ago

Ah, America, home of the free....LOL.

LogicMan 3 years ago

Not a single neighbor talked with him first? That's uncivilized.

hipper_than_hip 3 years ago

I'd like to know who in the Planning Dept suggested to the neighbors that the best course of action was filing an annexation petition.

Adrienne Sanders 3 years ago

I wouldn't be too comfortable approaching a neighbor about their shooting habits. If you haven't met the guy, you don't know if he's normal & stable or not, but you do know he likes to shoot. In this particular case it does sound like he's being more than reasonable about it, but really, not something you want to find out the hard way.

jafs 3 years ago

Please stop responding to my posts.

You've engaged in more than enough insulting behavior, and I've overlooked it a couple of times.

gr 3 years ago

People move out next to him. Then they say he's a nuisance without telling him. Then they try to tax him more or otherwise tell him what to do.

Do you blame anyone for opposing so-call "development" or "progress"?

Granted, he probably shouldn't have been shooting if others could be in line, but that holds for in the country. Don't need any special tax or limits on him. It goes for everyone.

grammaddy 3 years ago

Fear controlling the masses again.

Flap Doodle 3 years ago

Kinda like people who move next to an airport and complain about all the planes flying back and forth.

50YearResident 3 years ago

Hay bales do not stop 22 cal bullets. You would complain also under the same circumstances. Your comment is stupid.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Is this comment even remotely close to being on topic?

At some point, Merrill, you are no different than that spammer who says, "I can't believe Joanna made $4650 ... "

I flag them for removal, though I haven't done so with you, Merrill. But I do politely ask you to restrain from this rather boorish behavior.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Good morning, Bozo. So nice to hear from you, again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and ...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

I'm sorry-- I keep forgetting that this is your forum, and others only post here at your discretion.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

And again.

I am truly blessed to have someone willing to take time out of their busy day to respond to my every post. Surely in this modern age, there must be a word for someone willing to do that. What is that word? It's on the tip of my tongue. Rhymes with role. Hmmm. I'm sure it'll come to me in a moment. Tell you what, Bozo, since I'm certain you'll fulfill your life's mission by responding to this post (again), why don't you help me out by refreshing my memory about that word that is just out of my reach. Rhymes with role, begins with "t". Please, Bozo, hurry, respond. I can't stand the suspense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

OK, hypocrite, I've responded. (and you managed to get merrill's post removed-- congrats.)

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

And again.

And for the record, I did not hit the "suggest removal" key. It was Merrill who violated the terms of agreement that we all agreed to when we signed up for this forum. That his post was removed was a natural consequence of his decision to violate those terms.

MarcoPogo 3 years ago

"T-hole". Now you two can argue about what the "T" stands for. Dance for us, monkeys!

labernat 3 years ago

I live in the neighborhood that requested Mr. Cobb's property be annexed. No one spoke to Mr. Cobb because he took to yelling at people that shooting a gun was his right, and that if anyone tried to stop him he would come after them. Mr. Cobb also has several huge "no trespassing" signs on his property. No one wanted to confront him as we were all uncertain about what he would do if we did. No one took Mr. Cobb's rights away. We just made it illegal for him to shoot a gun in a residential neighborhood. He can still keep and shoot his guns. He just needs to shoot the guns where there are no people around. I don't think that is too much to ask.

blogme 3 years ago

Uncertain about what he would do? I am soooo tired of this fear argument. From previous posts on the ljworld, you people that keep dropping the afraid argument...Sooner or later you will have to grow up and realize that being adult means confronting fear, not calling big govt to confront it for you. Get used to it. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, especially when you create the fear yourself. Next thing you know that guy will be guilty, because he looked guilty! "Well, I just knew he would cause problems..." Tried and convicted in someone's head. Nice job enlightened people! Think I'll stick with the un-enlighted crowd.

blogme 3 years ago

And I love the title the ljworld used for this hit piece: City helps resolve dispute...Uh, no, they just ran rough shod over a person outside it's jurisdiction by threatening to bring him inside their jurisdiction. Talk about your bullying! Nice job LJWorld. Don't see bullying when it's done by the enlightened do you?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

If labernat's description is accurate, the fear was well-justified, and they handled the situation in a very adult way-- one that avoided a conflict that could have escalated into violence.

"Think I'll stick with the un-enlighted crowd."

That goes without saying-- you might also include the descriptors "immature and violence prone."

jafs 3 years ago

First, there's no evidence that he lived in the neighborhood before the neighbors.

Second, whether or not he has the "right" to shoot his guns in that neighborhood isn't clear at all - given the nuisance ordinance, he may very well not have that right.

Charles L Bloss Jr 3 years ago

I live in the county,, no houses around me. My neighbor shoots into the dam of a pond. Hearing the shots doesn't upset me because I know he is trustworthy and careful. If I wanted I could build a small range on the backside of a large hill on my property. I never heard such crap as the way the neighbors treated the landowner in this story. Instead of talking their concerns over with the shooter, they try to screw him using all sorts of laws. This was suggested to them by an employee of the government. There is too much power in the hands of government at all levels, micro managing our lives. Telling us what we can do on our own property, when we are hurting no one. If his neighbors were afraid to talk to the man in person, there is such a thing as a telephone, and the slow U.S. Mail.

joes_donuts 3 years ago

+1! He lives in the county and should be able to shoot his guns in a safe manner.

irvan moore 3 years ago

i think one of the points the neighbors are missing is that it wasn't a residential neighborhood when mr. cobb bought the property and that it is them infringing on his rights, not him infringing on theirs

Peter Macfarlane 3 years ago

Where in the Constitution does it specifically say that a citizen has a right to shoot a gun?

Topple 3 years ago

This is what I was wondering. I can see why they'd be concerned having him fire weapons considering they may have children running around the neighborhood, and a stack of hay doesn't exactly alleviate my concern for stopping bullets. But, my initial thought was his "rural" property was likely there well before their neighborhood was built.

From what I take from this story, the area residents are childish cowards running to the City of Lawrence to annex his property so they can legally infringe on his rights.

Peter Macfarlane 3 years ago

You have heard the expression: "No man is an island." Well, guess what, that expression applies to whatever we do with the property we own and how what we do impacts others and their properties. Ownership implies responsibility for whatever happens on our watch. You are not a very good neighbor if what you are doing potentially harms others and their properties around you.

labernat 3 years ago

Yes, we are very fortunate to live in God's country!

cjeter 3 years ago

I used to live 3 houses from Mr Cobb, honestly I never would have guessed that property wasn't within city limits. Being an avid hunter and target shooter, I'd like to remind Mr Cobb of the 10 rules of gun safety:

  1. Always Keep The Muzzle Pointed In A Safe Direction
  2. Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not Actually In Use
  3. Don't Rely On Your Gun's "Safety"
  4. Be Sure Of Your Target And What's Beyond It
  5. Use Correct Ammunition
  6. If Your Gun Fails To Fire When The Trigger Is Pulled, Handle With Care!
  7. Always Wear Eye And Ear Protection When Shooting
  8. Be Sure The Barrel Is Clear Of Obstructions Before Shooting
  9. Don't Alter Or Modify Your Gun, And Have Guns Serviced Regularly
  10. Learn The Mechanical And Handling Characteristics Of The Firearm You Are Using

You are clearly ignoring 1 and 4 and are lucky all you ended up with is people asking you to stop. That is obviously not a safe place to be shooting anything larger than a pellet gun.

MillyT 3 years ago

We live in the country, and several years ago, a young man was target shooting towards the west (where there aren't any houses) towards a berm mound with a wooden target in front. We live a mile to the north and my father an I were standing in the yard talking. Three shots, that we know of, hit our house, and one went 5 feet from us at heart level. That one went through our double-car garage, through my front room and finally rested between a double-paned glass door. I believe that one would have been lethal. He thought he was doing the right thing, but the wooden target caused the bullets to ricochet in our direction. My children were in the house at the time and fortunately were in the basement, so they were safe, but it was a very scary time for us because we didn't know where they were coming from at first. My point is, even though this gentleman is on his property and thinks he's being careful, you cannot control the bullet once it leaves the chamber.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

I had a similar experience several years ago in an open field east of Lawrence along 1500 Rd. A guy to the east, who couldn't see us, had set up a target, but several rounds of the 22 ammo he was shooting went whizzing past us. It's a miracle we weren't hit.

Peacemaker452 3 years ago

Sorry MillyT, I am going to have to throw the BS flag on this one. By your description, the young man’s bullets were fired to the west, ricocheted off of a wooden target with a change in direction of near 90 degrees, travelled an additional mile, and hit your house with enough energy to penetrate a garage and an interior room (at least 2 or 3 walls). This exact same process repeated itself 3 or 4 times, with each ricochet landing within a couple hundred of feet (unless you have an exceptionally large house). Sorry to break it to you, but the ballistics and the probability don’t work. (And before any of the clowns ask, yes I am an expert on ballistics and have an exceptional understanding of physics and probability theory) Ballistically, the rounds would not retain enough energy to do what you described and the probability of 3 or 4 rounds ending up on the same path is so low you could almost call it zero. So, either you made it up or the kid was shooting at your house.

MillyT 3 years ago

Not BS at all, and we were very surprised as well. In fact, the guy didn't think so either until we showed him a slug, then he knew they were his. (I don't know different types, but it was a slug about 2 inches or so in length.) Ironically, he was getting ready to go in to the military to train to be a sniper (don't know if he did or not). Their house also sits higher than ours, and ours is a large house. I'm just telling it like it happened, even though it sounds far-fetched. Once I realized how close it came to hitting one of us, and could've hit one of my children or one in our area, I was close to hysterical when I called 911. It is no BS, and I just put it out there to point out the dangers, even when safety measures are put in to place. I wish them good luck in this issue.

RoeDapple 3 years ago

When I built my home in '75 there were only two other homes within half mile of me, and nobody thought anything of it if I popped a few caps off the back deck. Now there are eleven houses within spitting distance so I either go to a more rural setting or to the gun range to shoot. Most of my neighbors are also weapons enthusiasts but I do respect those whose views are . . . not mine.

Paul Wilson 3 years ago

As a person who engages in this activity I can say that there is definitely not sufficient room on this property for a safe catch for the spent rounds. Even if the catch was set into the trees...I would not feel comfortable given the proximity of the back neighbors as well as the risk of wandering/playing children. If the shooting area does have an adequate catch area then the real issue is noise. I bought a suppressor (silencer) to be able to target shoot and not annoy surrounding residences. I live rurally and my nearest neighbor is over 1200 ft. The 'pop' of a .22 or 9mm can be heard for a great distance though. Much too loud for repeated rounds at a target. Solution: You can buy suppressors by setting up a revocable NFA gun trust through the state. This will allow you to purchase Class III weapons. It's $200 and a very smooth process if you have a squeaky clean record. I did, so I don't know what the hoops are if you have any non-violent ticks on your record. Anything violent...and there is no way. Easy way to have fun while being considerate to others.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Thank you for the map. It puts things in better perspective.

Phoghorn 3 years ago

Agnostick - I might disagree with just about everything you post, but this is some good information. Thank you very much for posting it. I am about as pro-second amendment as they come, but there is no way I would be doing target practice in that location.

That being said, I would not want large tracts of open land being annexed into the city to prevent people from target practicing or hunting in areas that are legitimately safe.

labernat 3 years ago

When negotiating, you always ask for way more than you hope to get. Such was the case with the annexation request. In the end, an acceptable compromise was reached. This was a win-win outcome.

riverdrifter 3 years ago

I shoot .22's a lot. I could never do it there and be comfortable about it.

matahari 3 years ago

oh, and but ron olin can fire off a gun and no ones' gonna do boo about it

backyardwino 3 years ago

“We just want to put the neighborhood at ease that there won’t be firearms out there,” Mayor Bob Schumm said.

I'm as liberal as they come, but really? Whoa there, Schumm. Possession of a firearm and creating a nuisance with said firearm are two completely different things.

Paul Wilson 3 years ago

Buford T. Justice: Nobody, and I mean NOBODY makes Sheriff Buford T. Justice look like a possum's pecker. Junior: Except for that... Buford T. Justice: Shut your a$$.

Great Avatar HWKA!!

workinghard 3 years ago

I'm confused, the article states "Cobb said he wished his neighbors simply would have brought their concerns to his attention rather than trying to force him into the city limits against his will." LJW commenter, labernat, posted "No one spoke to Mr. Cobb because he took to yelling at people that shooting a gun was his right, and that if anyone tried to stop him he would come after them." This last statement implies that somebody did speak to Mr. Cobb otherwise why would he be yelling about his right to shoot a gun? Is somebody not telling the truth?

JackMcKee 3 years ago

“Anybody from the neighborhood could have come up and talked to me, and we could have figured this out,” Cobb said. “I’m not unapproachable."

And your neighbors expect you to possess some minimal level of common sense and courtesy.

jafs 3 years ago


I used to be of the "talk to them first" school regarding neighbors, until I lived next door to a very unreasonable guy.

Talking to him just seemed to make things worse.

People who do inconsiderate and disrespectful things often aren't open to discussion.

hipper_than_hip 3 years ago

"People who do inconsiderate and disrespectful things often aren't open to discussion."

Like petitioning to have your property annexed into the city without your consent?

classclown 3 years ago

Annex the property and move Ron Olin out there. Then the neighbors will have no say over any shooting that goes on as Mr. Olin is special. As a matter of fact, the neighbors might end up being cited as a nuisance for always complaining about him shooting.

classclown 3 years ago


"T-hole". Now you two can argue about what the "T" stands for. Dance for us, monkeys!

August 22, 2012 at 9:29 a.m


Terrible Terror Tinkle Tranny Tickle

classclown 3 years ago


City helps resolve dispute over rural resident's target practice

We live in the country, and several years ago, a young man was target shooting towards the west (where there aren't any houses) towards a berm mound with a wooden target in front. We live a mile to the north and my father an I were standing in the yard talking. Three shots, that we know of, hit our house, and one went 5 feet from us at heart level. That one went through our double-car garage, through my front room and finally rested between a double-paned glass door. I believe that one would have been lethal. He thought he was doing the right thing, but the wooden target caused the bullets to ricochet in our direction.

August 22, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.


I'm sorry, but this doesn't pass the smell test. You're saying that these bullets traveled a full mile and punched through several walls of your house after already bouncing off of something else first?

These bullets were unable to go through a piece of wood only yards away yet had the energy to penetrate several walls of your house after such a journey?

MillyT 3 years ago

I'm sorry if it sounds incorrect, but that is what happened. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The guy even verified they were his slugs once we showed them to him. I can't explain it, but am just relaying the facts. Our house sits much lower, which may account for the difference. We have since fixed the interior holes, but there are a couple of slugs that are still lodged in the exterior of our home. I just hope the correct decision is made in the issue relating to this article and was just relaying what happened to us.

Peacemaker452 3 years ago

I would have to agree. As I stated above, the ballistics and probability don’t add up. The only thing that shoots a bullet “about 2 inches or so in length” would be a 50 bmg, and they DO NOT ricochet off of wood, they destroy it. Hope this guy didn’t pursue his desire to be a military sniper, doesn’t sound like it would work out very well.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

Chad has his own way of introducing a synopsis of the city commission meeting which is more than talk about target practice.

There is the Changes to development regulations which could put a lot of things in the backyards of country folk make no mistake about it. Could mean tax increases for the country folks = grab your wallets

$75,000 for library art project approved

City OKs new fund transfer policy = spending of tax dollars

Action on downtown directory sign delayed = more tax dollar spending

That's not all

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

One other Commission agenda item was the rec center

Do the pros outweigh the cons of the new proposed sports complex?

The answer appears to be no according to an analysis. Taxpayers are on the hook for the more than $20 million USD 497 sports project as we speak. ( Analysis)

It is time in my estimation to revisit this 1994 sales tax and ask voters how elected officials should be spending this money. Put this question on the upcoming ballot.

This 1994 sales tax is not dedicated to the park department in spite of the fact a large chunk has been funding park department projects.

Think of it this way.10% of this sales tax could be dedicated to rehab the library and operations thereafter. Thereby eliminating a tax increase. Let the voter decide.

Think of of this way 10% of this sales tax could build this community a nice Vo-Tech center. Let the voter decide.

Think of it this way 10% of this sales tax could be donated to USD 497 to rehab our elementary schools. Let the voter decide.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

For any group of politicians to believe that voters blindly trust politicians with their tax dollars is not real and hasn't been for at least 50 years. It would not matter who the commissioners are and would certainly be no different if I were a city commissioner. Or if any of the above posters were commissioners.

Let’s ask the voting taxpayers the largest group of stakeholders in Lawrence,Kansas what other projects they would like to have these tax dollars applied. Put this question on the upcoming ballot.

"Can the city approve this “Field House” without a public vote?" Yes they can.... Which could easily become $40 million or more. In essence this project is a tax increase and will expand the budget generously.

However there is nothing stopping them from putting this matter on the upcoming ballot which I believe is the ethical approach. Put this question on the upcoming ballot.

Politicians believe because they have the authority to spend tax dollars anyway they desire, no questions should be asked and voters should simply trust their motivations. I know very few taxpayers who accept this position.

Committing tax dollars to the "field house project" is on the August 28th city commission agenda which I believe is rushing it considering the amount of concern being voiced from just about every corner in Lawrence,Kansas.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

As I stated Chad has his own way of introducing a synopsis of city commission meetings which is more than talk about his chosen headline. And it might be his way of getting taxpayers attention. Most city commission meetings increase your taxes somehow so it might be best to read the entire synopsis.

LadyJ 3 years ago

Four more posts by merrill, he is being persistent. He must be trying to send a message to the LJW, maybe that he will not let them control what he posts and where?

LadyJ 3 years ago

I'm willing to bet he thinks they can't or won't do that. Somebody else thought that once.......

Commenting has been disabled for this item.