Firing Range Plans Shot Down

Plans to build a shooting range in the Big Point community were shot down by Jackson County planning commissioners. Wednesday morning the commission held a public hearing for a special exception requested by land owner Kenneth Bell who wants to build the range. Before commissioners made their decision Bell's neighbors voiced their opposition.

"I am all for a land owner doing whatever he wishes with his property but not at the expense of myself, my neighbors or my community," said David Lancaster who lives near the proposed site.

People who live near the proposed firing range had several reasons they were against it. For some it was safety, for others the likelihood of increased traffic on Rayford Shumock Road, but all those opposed to the idea shared one common complaint.

"It's gonna be one hellacious mess of noise out there," said Gary Percival of Big Point.

"I do not want to sit on my back deck and listen to people that I don't know that come from all over the place and shoot continuously," said Bell's neighbor Johnny Linton.

Kenneth Bell told commissioners the sound of gun fire never seemed to bother his neighbors before.

"I would be afraid to say how many shots are fired around my house every day," said Bell. "Does it bother me? Not a bit because I'm going to get out there and shoot some myself."

Bell said he would take steps like planting trees and putting up fences to help muffle the noise... and that safety shouldn't be a concern because all shooting would be in the direction of giant dirt mounds called burns.

"From where the actual shooting's going on... to any house... would be near about a quarter of a mile," Bell told commissioners.

Despite Bell's efforts to appease neighbors, planning commissioners voted against the plans.

"I was glad that they did because of the safety of our neighborhood and our property values," said Big Point Resident Deanna Rudd.

"I can't say enough about how much we appreciate the board for listening to us and putting it in that perspective and not approving it," said Linton.

Bell plans to appeal the decision to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.

Josh Ridgdell