Board rejects permit request amid complaints from neighbors who say gunshots are a nuisance, safety concern
The Grafton Town Board last week decided not to reissue a firearms discharge permit to an Arrowhead Road landowner amid complaints from neighbors who said excessive shooting on the property has shattered the quiet in their neighborhood and left them concerned for their safety.
“Last fall, I was in my garden when the firearms began discharging on the Hoppe property. The noise, the zings and the pings I experienced made me so uncomfortable I left the garden and went into my house,” Nancy Swisher wrote in an email to officials, which was read at the April 12 board meeting.
Swisher was referring to land at 1009 Arrowhead Rd. owned by Dean and Michael Hoppe.
“The shooting lasted more than an hour with multiple weapons and rapid, successive firings taking place,” Swisher wrote. “I felt like I was in a war zone and not in a quiet, calm country residential home.”
The town revoked the Hoppes’ license in February because of complaints. Officials said that there have been no complaints about shooting on the property since the license was revoked.
Town of Grafton residents can shoot on their property as long as they abide by various regulations, but they are required to have firearm discharge permits before they can allow other people to fire guns on their land.
Cyrus Hoppe of Wauwatosa, the son of Michael Hoppe, told the board that shooting gives him the opportunity to bond with his father by trapshooting and firing vintage rifles on his land.
Neither Michael nor Dean Hoppe were at the meeting.
Officials and neighboring property owners, however, said the Hoppe land was essentially being used as a firing range before the permit was revoked.
“There is no doubt in my mind what you’re doing is going to constitute a general nuisance,” Town Chairman Lester Bartel said. “It’s not conducive to have a firing range in a residential town.”
Noting that the Hoppe property is not far from the Village of Grafton’s east side commercial district, Bartel said he is also concerned about bullets straying into the high-traffic area.
Supr. Karron Stockwell agreed.
“We are sitting here to protect the health, welfare and safety for residents in the Town of Grafton,” she said. “We are not doing that if we allow you to have a firing range.”
Neighbors said that while they’re not opposed to town residents hunting on their land, the excessive shooting with high-powered rifles on the Hoppe property is unreasonable.
“I don’t mind people wanting to go out and have fun and enjoy themselves, but we’re talking about excessive lengths of time and multiple firings. I expect where I live to be somewhat quiet and peaceful,” resident Theresa Stay told the board. “My dog won’t come out from underneath the bed when the shooting is going on. Sometimes it goes on for four to six hours, and I question the safety and validity of that.”
Neighbor Paul Helms said he is worried that abuse of town firearm regulations will ruin it for responsible sportsmen who enjoy hunting and recreational shooting on their land.
“One day I lost count after 400 rounds,” he said, referring to shooting on the Hoppe property. “We don’t hunt like that. That’s not how you shoot skeet or trap.”
The property is home to Hoppe Tree Service, but owner August Hoppe said in an interview that he is not the owner of the land and has nothing to do with the permit in question.
“Hoppe Tree Service is not one of the owners of the property, I don’t have any say what goes on on that property,” he said. “We’re not condoning or sponsoring it, the employees have nothing to do with it.”