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Town hopes to silence shooting complaints PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by MARK JAEGER   
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 18:21

Neighbors say steady gunfire from ranges along Highway Y can make area feel like battle zone

Town of Fredonia officials have cast themselves in the role of peacemakers in an ongoing conflict between neighbors and two shooting ranges.

Neighbors of the Ozaukee Fish & Game and the adjacent Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department shooting range on Highway Y have repeatedly complained to town officials that the noise of frequent gunfire has gotten out of hand.

“Over the Fourth of July, the sound of gunfire was constant. It was like there was a war going on,” said one neighbor.

To bring peace to the neighborhood, the town’s Plan Commission is considering putting conditional-use permits in place that would regulate the operations.

As the commission considered the issue last week, Town Chairman Richard Mueller said voluntary cooperation might be the only solution.

Mueller said the town has the authority to put regulations on the private gun club, but noted that state statutes protect shooting ranges used by law enforcement agencies.

He said, according to the statutes, a shooting range is presumed not to be in violation of local noise ordinances if it is being used by law enforcement or the military.

The gun club has been in operation since 1969, and the sheriff’s pistol department range has been in use since 1984.

The residents said it was not their desire to put either range out of business, but to modify the hours of shooting — especially on weekends and holidays.

The sheriff’s department range is used only on weekdays, but it is rented during other times to outside departments that need to qualify in the use of firearms. Over the years, that qualifying process has expanded to cover high-powered rifles as well as handguns.

Ozaukee Fish & Game currently allows shooting from 9 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week. It has 190 members, and a waiting list of people who want to join the club.

Ozaukee Sheriff’s Capt. Jeffrey Taylor said the county would consider improving the site of its shooting range, including adding an earthen berm to reduce the noise.

“We want to be good neighbors, and will do what we can,” Taylor said.

However, those improvements will not include the construction of an indoor range.

“With the county budget being what it is at this time, the chances of getting county money for an indoor range are slim and none,” Taylor said.

Still, Mueller asked the county and the gun club to put in writing what concessions they would be willing to make to appease neighbors.

“You have to remember, these people are taxpayers and are entitled to enjoy their properties. We could discuss this all day and never come up with a solution,” he said.

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