Neighbors fear 'cowboy shoots,' stray bullets from Myakka City gun range

dgraham@bradenton.comApril 8, 2013 

MYAKKA CITY -- Neighboring property owners, some describing dodging wild bullets from "cowboy shoots" at the Myakka Education and Training Center, protested ongoing activity at a special hearing Monday to consider a special permit for operation of an outdoor firing range at 38820 Taylor Road.

"In my opinion, it's like a paramilitary training camp without adequate protection," said John Minder, professional engineer for Minder and Associates Engineering.

In the report, requested by an attorney representing homeowners, Minder's report recommended thr county deny the permits.

"This is so much more than a gun range," said neighbor Garret Barnes, who filed a civil injunction with bordering property owner Tom Howze against the gun ranch after complaining to the owners and to Manatee County in June 2012.

"This is our only opportunity for public hearing and complaint. Everything else is just done within the county staff. We don't know what they're going to do," Barnest said. "We don't know how they're going to design it."

Special hearing officer Meg Whittmer, a Sarasota special magistrate, listened to arguments from both sides and took her decision under advisement. However, Manatee County planning staff recommended approval of the initial site plan.

Chris Baden, a property owner and operator of the gun range, declined to comment.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday there will be a code enforcement hearing in the Manatee County Commission chambers to consider the recreational vehicle sites and hotel operations at the center, which have not been through the permitting process.

Dee Graham, Herald reporter can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027, or tweet@DeeGrahamBH.

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