DELAFIELD - The
unanimous recommendation of the Delafield Plan Commission
Wednesday night to reject the Hartland Sportsmen’s Club’s bid to
reopen its gun ranges could prompt legal action if the Common
Council follows that advice at its Dec. 2 meeting, said the
club’s legal counsel.
this decision cited lingering safety concerns, but attorney
Jeremy Levinson said the club furnished a cadre of range experts
to address and dispel all worries.
surprised and dismayed,” he said. “The Plan Commission claimed
to be having cooperative discussions with us involving safety.
The city indicated that we satisfied their concerns regarding
each successive wave of issues.”
He added that
the commissioners “kept moving the target” on the club, until
eventually making their decision on Wednesday. Safety has been
the chief concern since the ranges closed nearly three years ago
- after a stray, spent bullet from the facility struck a
pregnant woman dining outdoors at the Delafield Brewhaus.
to reinvent this club so that the city and neighbors understand
that it is a safe club. At the end of the day, this wasn’t
really about whether the club was safe enough,” Levinson said.
“It was about whether they wanted the club at all.”
throughout the state have used suburban sprawl as an excuse to
squeeze out these gun ranges that predate the developments
around them, Levinson said.
Commissioner Michele DeYoe, who also serves on the common
council, emphasized that the decision was about safety, but also
questioned the location.
“I didn’t feel
the club presented enough information to alleviate all of the
safety concerns,” she said. “The recommendation by city planner
Roger Dupler to deny the permit pointed out that the club had
failed to address some issues.”
Of note, DeYoe
said, was the need to reorient the direction of fire at the trap
range to accommodate a 300-yard shot drop zone, rather than 209
yards (the National Rifle Association standard) - as the club
had proposed. Overheard safety baffles to intercept 90-degree
ricochets would also need to be installed at the majority of the
ranges, she said.
“And I’m not
sure the club could ever be adequately safe in that location,”
When it is an
actionable item, as it is expected to be on Dec. 2, the Common
Council could go against the commission’s recommendation. If it
does not, Mayor Ed McAleer’s speculation at previous meetings
that litigation will follow suit could prove true.
“We’ll need to
look at other courses of action,” Levinson said. “We’ve put a
lot of effort into avoiding legal action.”