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Archive for Monday, January 9, 2012

Douglas County to fight landowners’ lawsuit over shooting range approval

January 9, 2012

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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.

Comments

chestylion13 2 years, 3 months ago

I am a resident of this area, and although the noise of the firing range can be somewhat less than peaceful, it is by no means enough of an issue to raise this much fuss over. Yes, the sound of gunshots is frequent. But, I am more concerned with neighbors who shoot their guns in a much less safer manner than the police do at the FOP. I believe in the right to bear arms, shoot them for recreation, but not to more or less recklessly fire them for fun when people and pets are in the vicinity. Some residents of the area partake in this, but it obviously does not bother me to the extent where I would move away from the area. But that is a completely different issue.

I moved to the area not knowing that the location of the FOP was near my house. I enjoy living in Lone Star and the thought of complaining about the FOP never occured to me until this issue was brought up. I don't let this noise ruin the lifestyle I enjoy in one of the safest parts of Douglas Co. So, there seems to be a handful of residents of Lone Star who are speaking for the majority of us who are indifferent to the issue. I would take living in this neighborhood over living in the city where there is far more noise pollution.

Let the FOP stay, and let's get back to more important problems.

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skinny 2 years, 3 months ago

No, that was at the National Guard Army on Iowa Street.

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cummingshawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Isn't there a practice range in the law enforcement center basement that was closed by OSHA due to the lead particulate being too high?

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smitty 2 years, 3 months ago

It comes down to prove it while the well established reputation of the police culture carries on with the blue wall of silence. Not one of the c--roaches have denied the drinking ..but do challenge for the concerned public to prove it.

May the lawsuit succeed.

There is no reason for us, the public, not to fund a proper shooting range where booze is not part of the every day experience. However that is not the only reason to stop the permit of the fop. simply look up the past coverage of the fop problems.

BTW, there has been first person reports right here on LE leaving the fop and getting into DUI accidents on Lone Star Rd that never reach daylight. BAU with the county's consent as it stands now.

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Jim Phillips 2 years, 3 months ago

Tell me kristen, how often do you go to the lodge? Do you regulary drink, shoot, or both when you're there?

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Jim Phillips 2 years, 3 months ago

The lodge is a multi-use facility. It is used for a variety of social functions for both law enforcement and non-law enforcement. The FOP strongly discourages the combined use of alcohol and firearms. And while I cannot attest that has never happened, I challenge anyone, especially those who "know" without ever having set foot on the place, to prove it is a constant issue. As far as the layout of the trap range, it has been exactly the same since 1977 that I know of.

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Ockhams_Razor 2 years, 3 months ago

Is drinking still allowed at the FOP property?

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somebodynew 2 years, 3 months ago

Well, once again you are wrong Smitty (not a real big suprize). The Ron Wilson who is involved in this suit is NOT the former Sheriff's Officer. I know the names are the same bujt two different people. And yes, I happen to know both of them.

As for the claim about the property and shotgun range. I have used it before and how it is set up does not match what you put out.

And I am sorry if you think this post is abusive in anyway. Sometimes the truth can be that way.

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smitty 2 years, 3 months ago

Always amazed at how fast the thread can shut down from the abusive LE posts when facts are presented.

Whistle blowers are what LE reform needs to clean up their own long standing abusive ways.

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RoeDapple 2 years, 3 months ago

"I purchased the 10 acres between the road west of the fop a few years back. At that time I was on my property and was bombarded with shot gun pellets . "

Gee smitty, with your love for LE, do you think . . . ?

;-)

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 3 months ago

Everybody gets crossbows! Twang, twang, twang.

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smitty 2 years, 3 months ago

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.

Ron Wilson is an ex-sheriff officer with Dg Co and he is one of those suing on behalf of the neighbors. There are many on this thread that share the same claim to ex-careers.

The fop land was originally a political cheap sale of property by a now deceased real estate agent and an ex-city commissioner/geology prof who were heavy into the good ole boy scene of Lawrence.

I purchased the 10 acres between the road west of the fop a few years back. At that time I was on my property and was bombarded with shot gun pellets from the way the fop had their skeet shoot set up. I emerged out of the creek and woods waving my arms shouting stop. Went up and talked but they did not rotate the skeet shoot on my request and made it known they would ignore my concerns. I have no idea what has happened since with the direction their guns are pointed. BTW the ole boy RE agent never told me that there was a shooting range there even though the shotgun was aimed in my direction.

Knowing this history from experience, it is easy to beleive that an ex-sheriff would join in the law suit. Ron Wilson knows police culture which adds validity to the neighbors concerns, IMHO.

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HW 2 years, 3 months ago

Kristen, Could you clarify one of your earlier statements. You said your family has owned property near the FOP for 75 years. Is this farm ground or residential property? When was the first house built near the FOP ground. When did you move into your home that is near the FOP?

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skinny 2 years, 3 months ago

The FOP hasn't had a permit for forty years why all of a sudden did the County feel the need to require them to have one now?

I live out in the Counnty and I shoot my guns day and night. Am I going to need a permit too? I think NOT!

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RoeDapple 2 years, 3 months ago

Not a big fan of imminent domain, but if they can do it for a noisy polluting race track in Wyandotte County . . . .

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

"Anyone who's complaining should have know that its nearby and if they didn't bother checking, than that's there fault."

I disagree. How many people ever think to ask if there is a shooting range nearby? Perhaps that information should be on the back of the real estate industry to advise?

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

Does a shooting range within close proximity to residential impact property market values?

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

“unreasonably and arbitrarily” approved a permit in October for a firing range at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge near Lone Star Lake." Is this a renewal?

Are more people living in the area than previously? If so then this matter may well be a legitimate concern.

Were new residents advised of the "nearby" shooting range before purchasing property?

Perhaps any further residential development should cease?

I am thinking law enforcement has access to an indoor range?

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triplegoddess13 2 years, 3 months ago

Let's see . . . where to start . . . First off the FOP is technically a members only club which should extend the organization and its members the right to do what they want/need to do on their private (dues paid in full) property; just like any other privately owned piece of land in the county. This includes shooting guns or having get togethers when they feel like it. Using the range to train LEO is completely different from the general FOP membership. The LEO agencies pay to rent the space so they can train out there. If stipulations are to be placed on when and what times they can train then so be it but remember these are the men and women that protect the cities of Lawrence, Baldwin, and Eudora as well as Douglas County in general and the entire state of Kansas. There are also classes in CCH, basic gun safety, and hunter safety taught out there. These are also paid activities that people hosting the training sessions pay to be out there for. The FOP is also rented out for family functions or general get togethers that the members wish to have out there. An FOP member has to be present at all times when these events take place and during these events not everyone is an FOP member, meaning not everyone out there is law enforcement or related to law enforement (common citizens of the community). To comment on a previous suggestion of a range master-there are several rang masters (active and retired) that are out at the FOP when LEO train.

The bottom line is that this facility is needed to train officers in and around Kansas so it is a necessity to have it. If the city and county (i.e. taxpayers) want to build a new training facility for LEO then by all means raise the money to do so but when that money isn't raised don't come crying and whining because the officers on the street aren't trained properly. You shut down their access to an already functioning training range.

It's only common sense to arm and train your LEO so they can not only protect themselves but the communities they serve in. Let them have an area to do that training and stop whining about gun noise when you can't even determine where the noise is coming from. Last time I checked there were a lot of county 'folk' that hunt in that area at all hours of the day/night. Allow the LEO to train so they can be the best at their jobs; day and night.

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swampyankee 2 years, 3 months ago

i prefer the noise created by guns than the noise created by whining

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kristeniswright87 2 years, 3 months ago

Why do Lawrence cops even need guns? They use tazers 99 percent of the time.

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Jim Phillips 2 years, 3 months ago

Sorry. The last sentence in the first paragraph should end with "unintended ones".

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Jim Phillips 2 years, 3 months ago

I think the FOP range should be closed down. That would force the County and the City administrators to build an indoor range somewhere in the county or city. Lest you ask why, it is because law enforcement officers are required by law to qualify twice a year with their handguns. Now, only shooting handguns twice a year presents some potential liability issues, which in turn raises insurance rates for law enforcement agencies. Afterall, I, for one would hope that police officers hit their intended targets rather than intended ones.

Now we taxpayers will have to fund the building of an indoor firing range (indoor to abate the noise) which means the building will have to meet stringent EPA mandates for the filtration of lead particles out of the air before the EPA will allow its use. It will need to be a massive system to eliminate all of the impurities that will be present from any automatic weapons fire involving several weapons. So, what, maybe $2.5 million for the building? Mayby $5 million (not including the land)?

We will also have to pay for the increase in liability insurance for the coverage of the facility and possibly for the increase in liablity insurance premiums for Douglas County and the City of Lawrence since training could be limited due to the increase in range costs.

This facility will quite probably be needed to conduct the hunter safety classes since the FOP lodge will be closed down, unless the insurance company refuses to insure hunter safety course. Where will they be held?

So, by all means, shut it down so we can raise taxes and provide less adequate training for our law enforcement.

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blue73harley 2 years, 3 months ago

The range is also used for Hunter Safety training. A course that I highly recommend.

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pace 2 years, 3 months ago

There should at least be a range master, one person who is responsible, ensuring safe practices and licensing rules are followed. I lived next to a sheriff's firing range and club house in another county. I support the idea of a practice and learning range. I do not fault the idea of a fraternal club house. Our range neighbors cut our fence, chased the cows with motorcycles, shot one cow, and had drunken wild parties. A range master might tone the hijinks down and keep it safer. Our neighbors finally got one of their retired guys to be in charge and they quit acting like (what to say?) rowdies.

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Number_1_Grandma 2 years, 3 months ago

Merrill, again you are talking out of both sides of your arse. You believe everything someone tells you? "Here say is not admissible" remember. The FOP have had/used this range for 30 yrs. This just came up due to permits needed or not. By the way....drinking and lawnmowers are not a great pair either!

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rockchalker52 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't think the range is new to the equation, is it? I thought it'd been in operation for years.

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RoeDapple 2 years, 3 months ago

"After 75 years and now the FOP needs a firing range?"

Umm . . . It's been there 40 years.

"Alcohol and guns are not a great pair."

An accusation without proof.

Once again, B.S.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

No Matter... Landowners near the FOP are taxpayers. After 75 years and now the FOP needs a firing range?

The firing range is a new equation into this matter. Why is this firing range necessary?

This resident kristeniswright87 is a legitimate stakeholder.

High powered assault weapons are not to be taken lightly.

If officers are in fact drinking at this location then driving home = a problem

Alcohol and guns are not a great pair.

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RoeDapple 2 years, 3 months ago

FOP mission statement;

"To support and defend the Constitution of the United States; to inculcate loyalty and allegiance to the United States of America; to promote and foster the enforcement of law and order; to improve the individual and collective proficiency of our members in the performance of their duties; to encourage fraternal, educational, charitable and social activities among law enforcement officers; to advocate and strive for uniform application of the civil service merit system for appointment and promotion; to support the improvement of the standard of living and working conditions of the law enforcement profession through every legal and ethical means available; to create and maintain tradition of esprit de corps insuring fidelity to duty under all conditions and circumstances; to cultivate a spirit of fraternalism and mutual helpfulness among our members and the people we serve; to increase the efficiency of the law enforcement profession and thus more firmly to establish the confidence of the public in the service dedicated to the protection of life and property."

That ought to clear it up for you.

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RoeDapple 2 years, 3 months ago

"Pop". Or as you put it, "pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop" means nothing. From the maps shown in the link below it appears the firing ranges for both rifle and pistol are targeted in a direction away from at least the properties listed as "adjacent". Do you have property damage due to stray rounds being fired your way or heard ricohets whizzing past? Like it or not, you probably live in the safest part of the county. Other than Dunkin Donuts of course. (sorry guys, couldn't resist) ;-)

http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/a-blog-about/2012/jan/9/fop-range-and-adjacent-property-owners/

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Lonestar1 2 years, 3 months ago

The range has been there for the 25 + years we have lived in the area. In fact anyone who has been in the area for any time know that firearms make noise and it is a :shooting range". There has always been shooting out there even before we moved to the area. We knew about it. I have a range out by my barn and I shoot all of the time, as do some of my neighbors along Washington Creek. It has never bothered me, even when they are shooting fully automatic stuff.

Every serious shooter knows that alcohol and firearms don't mix. I would like to think that the FOP keeps an eye on that type of thing. The range doesn't bother me.

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3up3down 2 years, 3 months ago

Range was there probably before the majority of the nearby home owners moved in. Didn't do your research before moving in, ie. checkin out the neighborhood. Sucks to be you!

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fu7il3 2 years, 3 months ago

Can you hear the noise from the hunters too? I would bet there are more than just cops shooting out in the county.

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Andrea Hoag 2 years, 3 months ago

You can imagine why these homeowners don't want a firing range right next to their homes. That sounds really unpleasant.

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Centurion 2 years, 3 months ago

kristen kinda reminds me about the person who lives near the airport and complains about the planes flying overhead

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kristeniswright87 2 years, 3 months ago

I live close to the FOP, and we have thought about moving several times because of the noise that occurs there. And not just from the firing range. I'm not sure what the FOP even is.

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