MANATEE -- After more than two-years of legal battling over the Rocky Creek Ranch Shooting Resort in Myakka City, defendant Christopher Baden has been held in civil contempt for violating an injunction against operations at the facility.
Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan issued the order Aug. 26, citing activities at Rocky Creek, including giving tours of the property and shooting long-range weapons, promoting a Young Republicans' "Bullets and Burgers" event, and hosting a safe weapons-handling training event.
The Bullets and Burgers event was eventually cancelled.
Dunnigan ordered that an injunction issued May 15, 2013, remain in full force, banning shooting or discharge of weapons, hunting on the property, and tours.
The May 2013 injunction was issued less than a month after Rocking Seven Ranch & Farm LLC, Garrett T. Barnes, and Howze Ranch Limited Partnership brought suit against Saray Inc., Baden and others.
Dunnigan found that the defendants were operating an outdoor firing range in an unauthorized manner and needed to complete their final site plan through Manatee County.
Garret T. Barnes, a Bradenton attorney who has a cattle ranch next door to Rocky Creek, is one of the plaintiffs who took the shooting resort to court.
"We have had bullets whiz over our heads. Someone will be killed or hurt out there," Barnes said Wednesday.
Rocky Creek needs to get all of its county approvals, and ensure that no bullets leave its property, Barnes said.
"It's not just me, there are a bunch of other neighbors who are concerned," Barnes said.
In May 2014, Christopher Baden's sisters, Joanna Baden and Virginia Baden, joined the lawsuit as intervenors to enforce the temporary injunction against operation of the gun range.
The Baden sisters filed individually and as co-trustees of the Baden Irrevocable Trust to prohibit the 1,400-acre property off Taylor Road from being used for commercial shooting activity, including as an outdoor firing range.
"After many failed attempts to work with Christopher Baden as a co-trustee and officer, Joanna and Virginia Baden have hired counsel to protect the Trust and Saray, Inc. from Christopher Baden's dangerous and risky activities," according to the motion to intervene filed May 12, 2014.
Efforts to reach out to Christopher Baden for comment were unsuccessful.
John Barnott, Manatee County Building and Development Services director, declined to comment on the shooting resort because of continuing litigation.
The Rocky Creek Ranch website says that the business is not officially open at this time.
"We are anticipating opening this spring upon completion of the permitting and insurance requirements.
"Please feel free to inquire about our future plans and schedule," the website states.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.