Douglas County Commissioners are disputing claims made in a lawsuit that they “unreasonably and arbitrarily” approved a permit in October for a firing range at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge near Lone Star Lake.
“We just disagree with that and don’t believe that to be the case,” Douglas County counselor Evan Ice said. “That’s going to be basically the tack we’ll be taking in court.”
A group of adjacent landowners or neighbors — William E. Roth, Mary S. Roth, Harry James Knoche and Ron Wilson — to the FOP property in December filed an appeal to the county-approved permit. Ronald Schneider, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said his clients had concerns about safety.
In the suit, Schneider has argued commissioners approved the permit without considering public health and safety issues, off-street parking and protections for children and people on nearby properties. The plaintiffs also have concerns their properties could decrease in value.
The county commissioners were listed as the defendants in the lawsuit, but the FOP lodge has since filed a motion to intervene in the suit and filed a response denying most of the plaintiffs’ complaints. Attorney Mike Riling said the FOP lodge members believe the county acted properly in granting the permit.
“The FOP owns the property, and the court is going to decide whether the property is going to be used in that manner,” Riling said. “I think the FOP should be a party” to the suit.
When the county commission approved the permit, it was the culmination of an earlier five-year legal battle over whether the FOP lodge even needed one after operating a firing range on the 94-acre site for 40 years without a permit. The permit included regulations on hours of operation and a way to reduce noise levels. A judge eventually ruled in the county’s favor in that suit, requiring the FOP to obtain the permit.
As of Monday, District Judge Michael Malone had not scheduled any hearings yet in the most recent case.