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The Town of Grafton is not a firing range PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 16:16

It would be no surprise if a scientific analysis of the soil in areas of the Town of Grafton revealed an abnormally high content of lead. Thousands of rounds of ammunition have been fired over that land.
    The Town of Grafton, particularly the part along Highway C between Port Washington and Lakefield Road, was once the home of some of the most intensely hunted public hunting grounds in the state.
    On opening day of upland game season, the shoulders of Highway C were parked chock-a-block with hunters’ vehicles. When the hundreds of hunters took to the fields and legal hunting started on a Saturday noon, the barrage could have passed for the thunder of a military assault.
    Much of the lead in the ground is no doubt in the form of No. 6 shot, the shotgun-shell pellet size favored by pheasant hunters. The Grafton hunting grounds were pheasant-hunting nirvana, thanks to the great numbers of the gaudy birds planted in the fields rented from farmers for public hunting by the DNR.
    This is not ancient history. Hunting was flourishing in rural Grafton as late as the last quarter of the 20th century. Then things changed. Homes popped up in what once were the wide-open spaces. Subdivisions consumed vast tracts of former farmland. An enormous shopping complex rose a short distance from the hunting grounds.
    Today, though crops are still grown on some land under contract, working farms are a thing of the past in the Town of Grafton. Residential development is surging. Town roads are busy, not with the vehicles of hunters, but with commuters, sightseers, bike riders, runners and walkers and people bound for the beauty and serenity of the county park created adjacent to the one-time hunting grounds, Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve.
    The character of the area has changed to the point where shooting must be considered mostly an obsolete pastime in the Town of Grafton. And certainly, shooting rifles that fire high-velocity bullets, which unlike the short-range shotgun loads that once fell on the hunting grounds can fly for miles, cannot be considered safe in the current town environment.
     The more than 30 people wearing camouflage clothing who confronted the Grafton Town Board on Oct. 11 obviously disagree. They exercised their right as citizens to show up en masse to protest the town government’s restrictions on shooting ranges and expansion of the town’s no-discharge zone.
    Town Chairman Lester Bartel explained why the restrictions are needed: “We have received legitimate complaints about people coming out on weekends and firing hundreds of rounds of high-powered ammo, which has been scaring the bejeebers out of people.”
    In February, the board acted to put a stop to the use of land on Arrowhead Road, not far from the I-43 business district, for a firing range. Now the problem seems to have moved to the eastern part of the town near Highway C. Residents have reported prolonged firing of numerous guns and even shooting after dark. To be clear, this is not hunting; it’s shooting for the fun of shooting.
    The citizens who appeared at the board meeting to object to firearms restrictions were reacting to letters sent to owners of property where shooting has been taking place informing them that firing ranges are not allowed in the town.
    The residents were also informed of a possible amendment to the town’s nuisance ordinance that would further restrict the use of guns.
    The Town Board in on the right track. The type of shooting that is “scaring the bejeebers” out of some residents is simply not compatible with life in the town in the 21st century. Safety is the heart of the issue, but it is appropriate that the problem is being addressed under the nuisance ordinance—because the racket and anxiety caused by the shooting are truly a nuisance, one that people seeking the peace and quiet of the countryside should not have to endure.
    One of the firearms enthusiasts protesting the restrictions told the board, “I moved to the Town of Grafton so I could shoot.”
    His disappointment is understandable. The Town of Grafton is a nice place to live and shooting guns is a perfectly acceptable hobby that gives enjoyment to many, but the two do not go together.   

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