Archive for Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shooting range draws concern

February 21, 2012

Nancy Hudson said she understands Leavenworth County Sheriff’s officials should be trained on how to use various weapons.

That training, though, should not be in a rock quarry near Kansas Highway 16, she contends.

Hudson, who lives in Fairway, owns land near the Hamm rock quarry. The land has been in the family since 1902. She and her three sisters own 80 acres near the quarry.

At a Feb. 8 Leavenworth County Planning Commission meeting, the commission unanimously approved a special-use permit from the sheriff’s office for a shooting range, which if approved would be about 3.5 miles northwest of Tonganoxie. The Leavenworth County Commission will consider giving the range final approval at its Thursday meeting in Leavenworth.

Hudson said she has concerns about the range’s proximity to K-16 — the road runs just to the east of the quarry — as well as noise. She also has concerns about the possibility of stray bullets, recalling a rural Linwood girl being struck in the head by a stray bullet while playing outside her home in 2008.

“Bullets are bullets and they go where science takes them,” Hudson said.

The proposed site in the quarry would be on county-owned property that the public works department already uses.

Jeff Joseph, planning and zoning director for Leavenworth County, said the proposed range would face northwest. Sandusky Road, to the south, is about 1,500 feet from the point of fire, while Kansas Highway 16, to the east, is about 1,800 feet. The point of fire to the property line is about 3,000 feet to the west and 2,000 feet to the north, Joseph said. As for the depth of the depression, Joseph said there was not a definite number, but it was estimated at 20 feet.

In the special-use request to the planning commission, Lt. Mike Swisshelm wrote that hours of operation would vary at the range, but would be used two to three days per month, with the majority of training taking place during a normal business day. There would be nighttime shooting range as mandated by the state, but Swisshelm wrote that shooting likely wouldn’t take place after 10 p.m.

Swisshelm anticipated a maximum of 35 officers using the range and spread out over a two-day training period, though other agencies could use the range. The planning commission added to the proposal the stipulation that only law-enforcement agencies with Leavenworth County could use the range.

A wood frame structure measuring 20 by 40 feet also is planned under the proposal, to be used as a classroom and shelter from the elements when needed. Swisshelm said his “rough guess” of cost for the shelter would range between $10,000 and $15,000, which Undersheriff Ron Cranor said has been budgeted for if approved.

Officers also would be allowed to use the range when off duty and would be required to notify dispatch of when they planned to use the range.

Capt. Andy Dedeke said the sheriff’s office currently uses a range at the Lansing Correctional Facility.

Dedeke said the range would allow for more flexibility in training.

“It’s available to us when we need it as opposed to being on a list,” Dedeke said. “There are several agencies on the list, as well as LCF. It’s not always available.”

Chad Krull, who lives south of the quarry, said his biggest concern is the potential noise. And, he thinks the range would be unnecessary.

“I don’t think they really need it,” Krull said.

Asked about safety concerns, Cranor said there is more chance of someone being struck by an hunter’s errant bullet than from the range.

“If a round would get out of there, it would almost be a miracle to get out,” Cranor said.

The county commission will consider the permit at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Leavenworth County Courthouse.


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