Lakewood Ranch gun club hearing to be reopened

jajones1@bradenton.comJanuary 24, 2013 

MANATEE -- Schroeder-Manatee Ranch officials had hoped the hearing officer would sign off on a special permit application Wednesday that would allow them to open a clay shooting club at Lakewood Ranch.

Instead, hearing office Lori Dorman is reopening the hearing out of concern about noise from gunfire.

The proposed site plan may not satisfy the screening requirements under the land development code, Dorman wrote.

"Even if the plan does not violate the code, additional impact mitigation factors should be considered to ensure the health, safety and welfare those in proximity of the proposed outdoor firing range," she wrote.

John Barnott, Manatee County building and development services director, said Wednesday the date for reopening the hearing would have to be coordinated with SMR and the hearing officer.

Among those expressing concerns about SMR locating the gun club off State Road 64 and Uihlein Road were neighbors, as well as Center Montessori School and Bayside Community Church.

"This is the first step into really protecting our youth and community as a whole. We stand strong in our belief that something like this close to children is detrimental," Mara Fulk, administrator for Center Montessori School, said Wednesday night.

Opponents concede that pellets from the shotguns that would be used at the Ancient Oak Gun Club could not reach their property.

But they are concerned about sounds of gunfire that

they fear might be heard from the gun club.

"We are not opposed to a gun club or gun ownership," Fulk said Wednesday.

The decision to reopen the hearing is an important step, but we're not through. We have some work to do," Fulk said.

SMR, the developer of Lakewood Ranch, revealed plans to develop Ancient Oak Gun Club on 70 acres, east of Lorraine Road, in November.

Proposed are 25 stations, each of which would present a different shooting challenge.

The request for a special permit went to a public hearing on Dec. 19, and earlier this month Dorman issued a notice of intent to approve the special permit application.

Within 10 days of filing the notice of intent, no later than Jan. 24, and after review of responses, Dorman could have issued a final order approving or denying the special permit. She opted for a third course: reopening the public hearing.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1

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