Neighbors file petition to stop new shooting range in Huntington County

Local News

HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A proposed new shooting range and education center is making a lot of noise in Huntington County and construction hasn’t even begun. The proposed new range would be located on North Rangeline Road just off of Highway 24 and a mile from Huntington city limits.

Back in November, John Michaels, lead instructor of Indiana Firearms Training LLC, put in an application for a special exception to the Huntington County Board of Zoning and Appeals. His request was to put a commercial firearms safety instruction on his property, which would include an outdoor shooting range. The board voted to separate Michaels request into two parts, unanimously passing his request to put a commercial firearm safety instruction business with a classroom but tabling the request to have backstops for the outdoor shooting range for another meeting.

Neighbors say they were not notified of the project until after the Huntington County Board of Zoning Appeals passed the first portion of the project. Others only heard about the project through word of mouth.

“Like most Huntington people, we don’t know anything until we read it in the paper or hear it on the news,” Huntington County resident Donna Hull said. “I was shocked to hear the news they are going to put in a range. It irks me.”

Other neighbors around the area were excited and welcome the new business. However, other neighbors surrounding the proposed facility say they are worried about more than just their property value. The noise and safety are their top priorities.

Edward Robbins is a neighbor located less than 200 feet away, in the woods adjacent to where the range would be. Right before Christmas, Robbins and his wife filed a petition with the Huntington Superior Court to have a judge review the Huntington Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision.

Robbins declined to go on camera but sent a statement on behalf of himself and surrounding neighbors.

“John Michaels of Indiana Firearms Training has an appeal with the Huntington County Zoning board to re-zone his property for a Commercial Tactical Shooting and Training Range on his property in our quiet neighborhood. In his testimony to the Zoning board he stated he would have the capacity to fire 1500 rounds an hour and possibly more. That’s a lot of NOISE and DANGER all while everyone is at home trying to enjoy time with their families. Shooting Ranges are not usually in residential areas for good reason. This is a real Safety concern!

The surrounding neighbors in the Rangeline Road area want to make it clear this is not a 2nd Amendement issue. We as a Neighborhood are Pro 2nd Amendment. We have guns in our homes and respect the rights of the 2nd Amendment. This is a safety issue. His range will be within 240 feet of a neighbor’s home where small children are living. You can’t put enough berms and poles up to stop gunshots from getting out of an open gun range. That’s why these ranges are usually in open rural areas away from housing and businesses.

We hope Mr. Michaels finds a safer location to build his range and his business flourishes. But a residential area like this is not a safe location and will have a negative impact on our neighborhood, our quality of life and our safety”

Edward Robbins, neigbor and petitioner

Forks of the Wabash is an educational center and museum that caters to weddings and events. The center sits about a mile south from where the shooting range would be. At their last meeting, the board voted against the new range for several reasons.

“Great idea, terrible location,” President of the Historic Forks of the Wabash board Jim Schiber said. “We have educational and social events at the Forks of the Wabash every Saturday and it’s my understanding the range will be running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and that would be a deterrent. We also have an assisted living facility across the street, an apartment complex, there is a half a dozen houses that are a stone’s throw away.”

The Izaak Walton League of America Huntington County chapter is a park and recreation center located on the corner of Rangeline Road and Hauenstein Road, a mile north of where the shooting range will be. The park has a wide range of outdoor activities including a girl scout cabin, maintained trails, archery and shooting range. With two shooting ranges within a mile of each other, some neighbors are asking why.

“My opinion is that I don’t like it,” Hull said. “Even though it could be on a range, it could ricochet and kill you or hurt you.”

According to the Huntington County Department of Community Development, Michaels has to provide the following to the Board of Zoning Appeals at their next meeting on Jan. 28:

  • 1) Pictures or Conceptual designs of the backstop(s) 
  • 2) Information from a sound expert or studies on sound 
  • 3) Information regarding the possibility of partnering with the Izaak Walton (which is a park and recreation center located on the corner of where the shooting range will be). 

A spokesperson for the Huntington County Board of Zoning Appeals says they put a notice in the Herald Press Newspaper and sent out legal notices to neighbors in a 200-foot radius of the North Rangeline Property.

WANE 15 reached out to John Michael, the owner of the land and proposed shooting range. In a statement, he said: “Out of respect for the Huntington Board of Zoning Appeals I have no comment at this time.”

The Huntington County Board of Zoning Appeals will make their decision on Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Huntington County Courthouse.

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