Sherman P&Z denies new range

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  • Gopher

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    Mar 5, 2008
    Far, far, far North Dallas
    This makes me madder than hell. These guys would have had a birds nest on the ground if this had gone through. They were going to convert a golf driving range into a great place to shoot. It would have been located on Hwy 75 north just east of the TI plant on the east side of the road. I thought the cemetery that complained was actually a private one. More in the article below. check out the whole tone of the story and read some of the comments

    [url][/URL]- 4-22-09


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    Mar 5, 2008
    Far, far, far North Dallas
    Proposal for gun range shot down by Sherman Planning and Zoning

    SHERMAN -- Mothers, widows and sons pleaded tearfully with Sherman Planning and Zoning commissioners on Tuesday not to break the peace and sanctity of Akers Cemetery with a shooting range. Owners and tenants of the former Cedarbrook golf driving range offered up designs, schedules, topographical maps and a 4-inch thick National Rifle Association manual as proof they wanted to run a safe, respectful operation.
    Commissioners listened for nearly two hours to everyone who wanted to speak about the property on U.S. Highway 75 in far south Sherman. The request was for a specific use permit, which gives the commission more freedom to exercise judgment than do many of the decisions they make each month. In the end, they voted 5-1 to deny the request, most citing that the rifle, shotgun and pistol range was not a suitable and compatible use of the land.

    The lone vote against denying the request came from the commission's newest member, Don Hicks.

    Voting to deny were commissioners Robin Atherton, Lawrence Davis, Brad Morgan, David Plyler, Darren Tankersley and Chairman Jason Sofey.

    Sofey said the matter had drawn about 21 names on a petition and close to 30 different letters from those opposed to the shooting range. Nick Morrow handed Sofey a petition bearing 650 names in favor of granting the permit. Later in the meeting, Sofey pointed out that many of the names on Morrow's petition were people who lived outside of Grayson County.
    Morrow, of Little Elm, and Randy Bateman of Allen presented the request for a permit that would allow them to operate the outdoor shooting range. They explained they chose the location because it is ideal for a shooting range since it was in a remote area in a valley across the highway from an industrial area. The property dips about 50 feet he said, and Akers Cemetery is about 50 feet higher on the grade. The land is zoned commercial and its neighbors are the cemetery and open land some of which one speaker said he planned eventually to develop into a residential area.
    Morrow said that he and the other developers of the range also were drawn to the exposure the business would get by being on U.S. Highway 75. The former driving range had a perfect, 200-foot long covered area for shooting away from the highway, combined with 20-foot berms (earthen mounds that stop the bullets) and 13-foot side berms. The whole safety system would produce a "no blue sky visible" shooting range encased with a row of safety baffles. This is constructed according to NRA specifications.
    In answer to questions, they said that safety is paramount and it would keep people from shooting on land not set up for safety. He said there is nothing but an indoor pistol range in a 70-mile radius.
    Commissioner Atherton asked what would happen if she were there and just accidentally shot off a gun in the air. Bateman said it could not escape because of the construction, although it might hurt someone in the range. Atherton also asked about the safety record of a skeet range that once was located on State Highway 56. Scott Shadden, the city's director of Developmental services, said a friend of his was killed there.
    Sherman Police Chief Tom Watt said he had serious concerns. Watt said that he believed the developers' statement that they had sought permission from the police department to conduct shooting tests there to measure sound levels. However, he said, no one at the Sherman PD has authority to grant such requests.
    Watt said he is concerned about the "startle factor" for motorists on U.S. 75. He said he did not feel assured by the statements that people would bring in arms unloaded in cases. That would be hard to control he said, for customers who were in the parking lot across from Texas Instruments, and you can't control human error.
    "There are accidents," Watt said. "One word, as a private citizen, I listen to you talk about these ranges in Garland and Dallas. This is not the Dallas Metroplex, we choose to live here because of the environment that we have."
    Lucinda Bateman, who attended with Randy Bateman, said she wanted to dispel the notion that the proprietors of the shooting range were Dallas outsiders. She said she is a lifelong Grayson County resident. She said that her Baptist grandmother is buried in Cedarlawn, near where Diggers bar went in, and no one seemed to care about the propriety of that.
    Attorney Donald Johnston spoke for the Akers Cemetery Association. He read from city law that once a permit were granted neither city officials nor individuals could bring any action against the gun range for noise levels that exceeded those they agreed to. And he said, despite measurements and science, gun sounds are different from any other kind of sound and that difference is of great importance to the people with loved once interred at Akers Cemetery.
    He said that although Morrow and Bateman had said they would suspend operations during services and keep hours that would give people time before 10 a.m. and in the evening to visit their loved ones gravesites, that might prove impractical.
    "Gunshot sounds are different from the sound of highway traffic or a railroad train, they're just different" Johnston said. "The noise of gunfire is unique and disturbing and annoying to the human psyche. Think about the purpose of a cemetery. It is the place we inter our dead. We go out there to pay our respects."
    Johnston referred to letters from funeral directors who were opposed to letting the gun range go in. Those who bury their loved ones need to stay by the graveside awhile. Can you imagine as a widow goes to sit by the grave of her husband and hears "Boom! Boom!"
    This past Saturday, there were two funeral services at Akers, said Bill Bennett who represented the cemetery's trustees. Would the gun range operators really want to invest so much money and then close down on the busiest day of the week?
    But it was two women who seemed most to tug at commissioners hearts.
    Tonya Lee Havens said her 14-year-old daughter is buried there, just a mile from where she lives. She moved her daughter's body from a Sherman cemetery because it was too large and noisy. "To me a cemetery is almost holy. ... I'm there almost every day. I go out there to listen to the birds and to talk to her. It's a beautiful place."
    Lynn Almazon is 34 and lost her husband last week. She said her comfort, and that of her 6-year-old daughter, lies in Akers Cemetery. She said she could not imagine what their frequent visits there this week would be like for her daughter if they had to listen to gunfire. "She shudders when I shut the car door. That's where she goes to work out in her own little way why she can't see daddy.
    "If home is where your heart is, my heart is in Akers Cemetery."
    In other business, a request by Ceci Bates Construction for a specific-use permit to allow a sales office in a home in O'Hanlon Ranch Estates drew fire from 19 residents who signed a petition against the action. The commission spent nearly an hour of the three hour and 10 minute meeting on this item.
    Scott Bates, requesting the permit, said he and his business partner had tried conducting their business by having an off-site office, but that did not work well for them because they are custom builders. He said that they use the home, the only one they have in the addition, as a model home. They also have a bookkeeper who comes in two or three days a week and works there and contractors sometimes come by to pick up checks.
    Jim Taylor, who lives across the street, said that Bates' activities amount to having a business in a residential area. He also said that Bates had failed to show good will by operating the business without a permit for two months. He said subcontractors are in and out of the business several times a day and "while the bosses go in to get the checks, the laborers take siestas in the backyard."
    Commissioners discussed whether the city had a clear definition of the difference between a real estate office and a model home with sales office. Eventually, commissioners decided that was a moot point as the request was to have a sales office and the 19 neighbors were opposed to even that proposal. Again the concept of the most appropriate use of property in light of master plan and zoning rules was the deciding factor. Commissioners voted unanimously to deny the request.


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    Mar 11, 2008
    DFW, North Texas
    Maybe some of them ought to go see Elm Fork. It sit next too, and aimed at, LB Houston Golf Course. You can hear the shots, but it's a much more open area and at the same grade.

    I've never heard anyone have to yell "fore" from the rifle range. And yet to hear of a death or injury from gunshots. Although, back when I played there, I may have blown a shot or 2 when gun fire would startle me on the southern most hole. :p


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    Feb 29, 2008
    DFW area.....Wylie.
    As a practical matter, there should be another parcel of land they can buy to build the range. I'm all for a good range; but I wouldn't build one next to a cemetery. It doesn't seem like a good idea when you think of why [live] people are visiting a cemetery. If they look, I'm sure they can find some more land.
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