MEQUON — A
standing-room-only crowd of more than 120 Mequon residents
packed City Hall Tuesday to share views for and against initial
steps to allow indoor sport shooting ranges in Mequon.
taking 70 minutes to hear the opinions of 34 residents, the
Common Council spent another 50 minutes debating the topic
before Mayor Dan Abendroth broke a 4-4 tie vote to allow the
ranges as conditional uses in two different industrially zoned
areas in Mequon.
11 people who supported the proposed change and 23 who at least
partly opposed it, although many of those said they did not
favor a possible site along North Port Washington Road, but
would be open to the concept elsewhere.
residents Mark and Cheryle Rebholz want to develop a range to
provide a place for area residents to use firearms. Cheryle
Rebholz told the Planning Commission, which backed the concept
unanimously in October, that a growing number of people are
obtaining concealed-carry permits, but there is “nothing close
and convenient” where they can practice. The Rebholzes attended
Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, but did not speak.
Many of the
residents’ comments and much of the discussion among council
members centered around the possibility that one potential site
for the range would be near Port Washington and Donges Bay
roads. As the proposed ordinance was written, that site would
not have been allowed because it is not in either the B-5 or B-6
action simply clears the way for a proposal for a range, which
would receive separate and more specific consideration from the
city. The B-5 zoning area is the city’s industrial park that
runs roughly from the south end of Steffen Middle School toward
Donges Bay Road. The B-6 zoning area is in the far southwest
corner of the city, bounded by County Line and Wasaukee roads.
The range could not be
within 1,000 feet of a school or day care, which would be an
issue with a part of the B-5 area.
resident to come to the microphone said he is a physician and
called it “an act of desperation” to build a shooting range in
community is better than this,” said Marc Hirsch. “As a
community, it is beneath us to put a public shooting range in
close proximity to schools.” David Delahunt, who has lived in
Mequon with his wife for 27 years, said he holds a
concealedcarry permit and is a member of the National Rifle
gun owners need a safe, well-run and convenient facility where
they can practice and hone their skills,” he said. Ruth
Kantrowitz told aldermen that she is concerned about safety and
traffic in the area surrounding a range, particularly along
North Port Washington Road.
gun range near homes does bring down property values,” she said.
“I am prepared to hire a lawyer and bring parents together to
make sure this does not happen in this town.”
Kennedy said her family moved to Mequon three years ago and
selected the community primarily due to the schools and its safe
reputation. She said they likely would have lived elsewhere if
there had been a shooting range in the city.
one irresponsible act to end in a tragedy – and I don’t want
this to be my child,” she said. “I would think twice about
frequenting a business near a shooting range. Who knows what can
happen in a split second?”
Bzdusek, who retired in 2013 as a Mequon police officer and now
works as a firearms instructor with a personal business and with
Wisconsin State Fair Police Department, said he encourages
students in his concealed-carry classes to get more training. He
said there are not many nearby options to practice skills.
promotion of safe and responsible gun ownership is a plus to a
community,” he said.
discussion turned to the Common Council, several members said
they would be comfortable with allowing ranges in the B-6 zoning
district in far southwest Mequon and possibly in the industrial
park north of Donges Bay Road. However, they said they were
opposed to the Port Washington Road site.
educated, we love our community and we love our children – and
we know what we’re comfortable with,” said Pamela Fuhry-Adams,
whose District 8 follows Lake Michigan east of North Port
Washington Road. She voted no.
Strzelczyk, whose District 1 covers most of north Mequon, said
he grew up around guns, took a gun-safety class at age 12 and
has used guns safely ever since. He said it has been his goal
since being elected to the Common Council to keep Mequon “a
familyfriendly community.” Strzelczyk, who voted no, urged his
colleagues to balance rewards with the risks.
“We need to
be cautious,” he said. “This is a very important issue for the
city of Mequon.”
Hawkins, who voted yes, said he did not like the North Port
Washington Road idea, but refuted some of the comments made by
members of the public that mentally ill gun owners coming to the
range could result in a tragedy.
mentally ill gun owners, we face that risk right now without a
shooting range,” said Hawkins, whose District 6 lies between
Mequon and Donges Bay roads.
member Mark Gierl said the range would be tucked away and not
near homes. He also refuted claims made by some residents that
lead produced as firearms are shot would cause a health risk.
Gierl, who voted yes, took exception with a resident who said
that those who favored the gun range would be voted out of
care,” he said. “I work my butt off in this job for a measly
amount of pay – and I do this for the good of Mequon.”
getting to the final vote, council members rejected, 6-2, a
proposal to limit the range to the B-6 district in far southwest
rejected, 7-1, a motion to table the proposal to allow more time
Gary Achterberg can be reached at