Another Shooting Range Being Squeezed Out


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Jeff White
August 8, 2005, 06:42 PM
This was in yesterday's St. Louis Post Dispatch:
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/metroeast/story/54F946E56F30CF23862570560044E4B6?OpenDocument
Gun club finds itself caught in the middle over shooting range
By William Lamb
Of the Post-Dispatch

St. Clair County is seeking to use its eminent domain powers to take land southwest of Scott Air Force Base where the Caseyville Rifle and Pistol Club is building a shooting range.

According to a complaint that the county filed last month in circuit court in Belleville, the problem is that the 30-acre parcel straddles two "accident potential zones" near the base where the county tries to limit development for safety reasons.

In seeking to condemn the land, St. Clair County has found itself at odds with the city of Mascoutah, which approved a development plan for the shooting range in February. The city manager, Terry Draper, said that city officials were aware that the site sits within the accident zone but decided that a shooting range would be an acceptable use for the land.

As a result of all this, the pistol club finds itself in limbo, facing its second eminent domain threat since March 2004. The club is being displaced from its current home off Illinois Route 159 in Caseyville by a $400 million mixed-use development that will combine single-family houses with a pedestrian-friendly commercial center.

The village of Caseyville withdrew its petition to take the club property by eminent domain after the developer, Sport Choice LLC, agreed to build a new shooting range for the club. The club settled on the property in Mascoutah and submitted plans to the city that called for trap, rifle and handgun ranges as well as an archery area and an office.

Draper said last week that city officials knew that the property was in the accident zones established by a federal Air Installation Compatible Use Study, conducted in 2001. But Draper said that Mascoutah officials agreed to issue a special-use permit for the range, reasoning that it was a "compatible" use that did not pose a significant safety hazard.

"We took it through full notice and full evaluation and went through all of the requisite steps that's in our process and that take into consideration all the regulations and guidelines dealing with the accident potential zones," Draper said.

Charles W. Swartwout, a lawyer representing St. Clair County, said that the proposed range simply is too close to the base for the county's comfort.

"It's a safety issue of protecting the public and those people who would assemble in that area," he said. "It's pretty simple, actually."

The Department of Defense requires that accident potential zones be established near major military installations. The idea is to control land use in the areas where the Pentagon reasons that accidents are most likely to occur.

Development in the accident zones is restricted, but not prohibited. Land use in "Accident Potential Zone One," which sits closest to Scott's runway, is largely limited to industrial or agricultural purposes. Some low-density commercial and office development is permitted in "Accident Potential Zone Two," which extends into parts of Mascoutah and O'Fallon, Ill.

"Assembly areas" - including churches, sports arenas and restaurants - typically are not permitted in either zone. St. Clair County cites that precedent in its complaint.

Although the Pentagon has been silent on the matter, Metro East officials speculated this year that limiting development near Scott would help the base survive the latest round of base closings. Scott was not on the list of targeted installations that the Defense Department released in May.

Randy Seper, the Caseyville Rifle and Pistol Club president, declined to comment on the case. An attorney for the club, Don Weihl, also declined to comment.

Nothing has been built at the shooting range site in Mascoutah, but a significant amount of grading work has already been done, according to officials familiar with the development.

The case appears to have little in common with a Connecticut eminent domain case that triggered a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. In that case, the court ruled that municipalities could take private property to make way for commercial development.



Reporter William Lamb
E-mail: wlamb@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 618-235-6142

Land in St Clair county is at a premium as the flight from St. Louis moves West. I don't know where they'll find another 30 acres they can afford. I rather doubt that there would ever be more people on the range then are permitted in some of the other uses of that land.

Jeff

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Justin
August 8, 2005, 08:55 PM
What's that word I'm looking for?

Oh yes.

Ridiculous.

Bruce H
August 8, 2005, 10:40 PM
Jeff, lets watch and see what eventually gets built on this land. I'm betting money will change hands under the table on this deal.

Henry Bowman
August 9, 2005, 09:31 AM
The city manager, Terry Draper, said that city officials were aware that the site sits within the accident zone but decided that a shooting range would be an acceptable use for the land. "Sure. Let the gun nuts go play in the minefield. They like that sort of thing."

Really, it wouldn't bother me.

Nathaniel Firethorn
August 9, 2005, 09:43 AM
:rolleyes: Again. If you're running a range in a development-prone area, your options are:

1. Buy as much surrounding land as possible as it comes up for sale.

2. Move the range somewhere that won't be sprawled over and where there are no residents to care.

3. Prepare to go out of business eventually.


- pd

Fiaid
August 9, 2005, 11:46 AM
I live just down the road from this range, the fact that they could find anywhere in the area is surprising. The Metro East area is building up quickly as more people move over to Illinois and St Clair county. I fear that they only place that they are going to be able to get space is going to be so far out in the country that it is going to be prohibative for anyone to actually come out to shoot there.

scout26
August 9, 2005, 07:48 PM
Hmmm, we have a piece of land that the government says because of where it's loacated we don't want peopele building houses and schools there.

Sounds like a prefect place for a range.

What am I missing ?????




"It's pretty simple, actually."

We don't like guns.......

NMshooter
August 9, 2005, 10:42 PM
I keep expecting the Zia Rifle and Pistol Club to go away. Could fit a nice big housing development in there...

Sooner or later my secret shooting spot will get snapped up and then I will really be SOL.

Standing Wolf
August 9, 2005, 11:02 PM
I'm betting money will change hands under the table on this deal.

There's a proposition I wouldn't bet against.

gc70
August 9, 2005, 11:19 PM
industrial or agricultural purposes... low-density commercial and office development
Let the surrounding area become fully developed and those could be very valuable uses for the land - resulting in even more 'money under the table.'

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