Hearing officer clears way for Myakka Education, Training Center

dgraham@bradenton.comMay 11, 2013 

MYAKKA CITY -- As expected, a special permit allowing the outdoor firing range planned for the Myakka Education and Training Center gained approval Friday from Manatee County hearing officer Meg Wittmer.

The decision includes a number of conditions addressing zoning and land regulations, buffers and noise requirements, wetlands, environmental and endangered species protections, and other specifics that must be addressed before final plans are approved.

Neighbors of the property, who have already won a civil injunction against the gun range's operation, say they will appeal the decision to the 12th Circuit Court.

The property, owned by Ray, Sara and Chris Baden and other family members at 388820 Taylor Road, is also known as Rocky Creek Ranch. They announced the victory on its Facebook page immediately after receiving the news.

"Rocky Creek Ranch has never been exclusively about shooting sports and from its inception has been developing traditional wilderness outdoor opportunities to enhance the ecotourism of Manatee County," Chris Baden told the Herald on Friday.

The attorney representing the neighbors of the Baden property, Matthew Taylor, said while the ruling sets some restrictions, it doesn't go far enough.

"It's a step in the right direction," he said, noting the ruling will require more and bigger protection berms, and reverses the direction of one of the firing lines, to point away from his client's property. But it doesn't adequately address noise concerns or the types and size of weapons and ammunition to be used, "as required by the Land Development Code," Taylor said. "It's kind of incredible to us."

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