Letters to the Editor

Letter regarding the Shooting Club in Walworth County

The rifle range and gun club zealots gathered up more ammo for their Private Sportsman’s Club, and are back on the Linn Plan Commission Agenda for a Public Hearing Monday 4/23/18 to apply for a REZONE & CONDITIONAL USE for the farm property W3960 County Road B just outside of Zenda: REZONE    A-1 Agricultural……….to…………. P-1 Recreational Park Use OUTDOOR RIFLE/PISTOL SHOOTING RANGE HUNTING CLUB FOR PHEASANT, DOVES, AND CHUCKERS TRAP, CLAY AND SKEET SHOOTING & ARCHERY

Chris Crandell is the owner of the farm and has obviously already converted the property to an unsanctioned hunting and trap shooting facility for the enjoyment of Crandell and his friends.   Although firearms have always been in use, the operation was apparently limited to shotguns and because the activity was infrequent enough, none of the neighbors or anyone in the community complained about the noise or risk factors, or zoning code violations. So now Crandell wants to take advantage of his neighbor’s goodwill and friendship to create a full-time business out of what was just a recreational activity.

Chris Crandell may have the best of intentions and, apparently presumes he should continue to be trusted to do the right thing, but by adding a Rifle and Pistol Shooting Range, he’s greatly increasing both the nuisance and hazard factors. Shotguns, using birdshot, have a lower velocity than rifles and handguns, so the buckshot from a shotgun doesn’t travel nearly as far as a bullet from a rifle and therefore there is a much less chance for an errant shot to injure or kill a bystander. But the greatest objection and the vast majority of complaints about Rifle Ranges is about NOISE. The average decibel measure of shotguns is around 160 decibels; rifles are around 165 decibels, but that 5-point decibel hike for rifles increases the intensity factor by around 50% more noise. Range participants use mandatory ear protection to prevent permanent hearing damage, but neighbors of non-protected, open-air Shooting Ranges are forced to endure the nuisance/torment.

Naturally, there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent both the noise and safety- hazard factors and the State of Wisconsin through the DNR is more than happy to provide guidelines and strategies to set-up or improve Shooting Ranges—including funding. The guidelines include:

  • Be aware of the issue of noise disturbance to residences within 1,000 yards. Noise mitigation techniques (baffles) can be employed to mitigate the disturbance Design range to cause all rounds fired at the target to impact the backstop Avoid wetlands or hydric soils or soils with hydric inclusions.  There must be a minimum of five shooting stations (firing points or benches) at each range, and ten per range site (i.e. five at the handgun range and five at the rifle range) Backstops and shot-fall zones may not be in a wetland or over water
  • Backstops must be at least 20 feet in height. For Privately Owned Ranges, the DNR has a shooting range grant program established in NR 50.17.

Regrettably, Crandell hasn’t yet chosen to utilize these PROTECTIONS, nor has he taken any other safeguards to protect his neighbors and the community. He has, however, taken every available opportunity to PROTECT himself from any liability for the Sportsman’s Club by forming his Rosemary Charter’s, LLC. Which means once the shooting range is approved, Wisconsin’s SB527 takes affect exempting the shooting range, range owner and operator from any type of lawsuit or any zoning ordinances related to noise, shorelands, non-conforming use, etc.

Can you have a rifle and pistol range so close to the Town of Zenda, the Snudden Facility, Traver School and a host of other farm residences and farming operations well within ballistic range, without taking protective measures?

  • For safety purposes, the DNR mandates 20-foot backdrops on each of their rifle ranges, but there’s nothing like a 20-ft. backdrop visible on this club’s property.
  • Does the club still propose to sell food and sell ALCOHOL on premises?
  • What constitutes membership? Is it a yearly membership fee or can membership be by the day?
  • Can the public be invited as guests?
  • Will shooting contests be conducted with prizes and will wagering be allowed?
  • Will live pigeons or other caged birds be released for shooting and slaughtering?
  • Will guns be sold on premises and will guns be rented?
  • Will semiautomatic weapons be allowed?
  • What are possibilities this operation could become a militia, paramilitary or fantasy terrorist camp?
  • Are neighbors aware of the Wisconsin noise immunities specifically written for shooting ranges?
  • Where is the pond that was dug out on the property?
  • Lead poisoning can be a serious health risk around firing ranges, so what will the lead compliance program be for employees and clean-up workers?

The Walworth County Land Office says they have little or no ordinances or rules covering a recreational hunting and shooting business, so they are telling us that it is the Town of Linn’s responsibility to set the rules. Mr. Crandell is asking for special rights to convert his farm into a business fraught with risks and dangers to our neighbors and the community. Because it is the primary duty of government to PROTECT its citizens, it is the Town of Linn’s responsibility to protect everyone in the community from the potential perils of the shooting range activity by following the DNR Guidelines.

Dick Malmin, Local Lake Geneva City Activist

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