Local News

Drake Landing allowed to operate gun range

Posted August 28, 2014
Updated August 29, 2014

— Drake Landing will be allowed to operate a a gun range on its property, the Harnett County Board of Adjustment ruled late Thursday night.

The late night decision comes after two days of debate over whether to grant the northern Harnett County farm a conditional use permit to operate the shooting range.

In its decision, the board issued the following rules:

  • Shooting is only allowed Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • The range must be reviewed by certified range designers. No explosives are allowed.
  • No rifles over .22 caliber and no handguns larger than a .45 caliber are allowed.
  • The range must comply with county noise ordinances.

Each provision was voted separately and approved in either an unanimous or 4-1 vote.

The ruling was made after dozens of residents voiced opinions for and against the range before the five-member board Wednesday and Thursday.

Drake Landing is a family-owned farm in Fuquay-Varina that offers a number of outdoor activities, including hunting preserves, archery shoots, skeet and trap shoots as well as a rifle shooting range and pistol pits.

Neighbors say the shooting range brings noise and gunfire too close to their homes, and for years wanted the facility to adhere to county zoning laws.

"On the weekends, my alarm clock is gunfire," said Averell Blanks, who opposes the range, before the board Thursday. "When I bought there, I didn't have to listen to that, and today if I was looking for property I wouldn't buy there. I think it's a nuisance to the community."

The farm was exempt from local rules until a judge overturned its agritourism status in March.

Those rules, as outlined in the county’s Unified Development Ordinance, include:

  • Information regarding how the public will be protected from the highest caliber weapon used at the facility
  • Compliance with noise regulations
  • Exact distances between the target line and nearby homes

After the court ruling, Drake Landing owner William Dan Andrews said he made several changes, including closing the rifle range and not allowing rifles powerful than a .22 caliber.

"So I’m hoping that you all find a way to grant this petition and to be able to utilize his property, and to be able to make compromise to be able to satisfy his neighbors that he’s going to continue to work on the noise," said John Bryant, an attorney for the farm, before the board Thursday.

This week's hearing is the latest in the battle between the farm and its neighbors:

  • Drake Landing sparked controversy in 2010 when it planned a three-day semi-automatic weapons course over Memorial Day weekend. The event was eventually moved to another location, partly due to public outcry.
  • In 2012, residents complained to Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins about the range and wanted deputies to do more to stop stray bullets from hitting their homes.
  • County commissioners passed a resolution in January 2013 stating that “the operation of a firing range or pistol pit on a working farm is not a rural activity,” but just two days later, the county Board of Adjustments voted to allow Drake Landing to keep its agritourism classification.
  • A Superior Court judge ruled against the board in March, saying the gun range violated county zoning rules, but referred the matter back to the board, which did not appeal the judge’s decision.

The large turnout this week is the latest indication of how serious guns and gun rights issues are in the rural county, from residents packing a recent county commissioners meeting to fire back at a proposed gun ordinance to the sheriff advocating their use for home protection during a community meeting.

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  • bettyboopr2 Aug 29, 2014

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    well said notexactly....my husband and I also eat what we harvest....I do not consider myself a "yahoo" but a sportsman.....

  • notexactly Aug 29, 2014

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    Its a terrible thing. I feed my family with deer and fish I harvest. What will you do when the farmers and stores go out of business. Where will you get your food. Every time you post you truly show how ignorant you are. There are those that should not be hunting, but the majority are true sportsmen and have the up most respect for the animals they harvest and for the land they hunt. I have passed the hunting tradition down to all three of my children and they love to hunt and fish. Sad that you depend on the grocery store for your survival. You will be the Yahoo tramping around trying to get the hunters food one day. The only yahoos I see now while in the woods are the earth biscuits picking flowers and singing to the trees.

  • SAY 'WHAT" ONE MORE TIME! Aug 29, 2014

    I hope Drake Landing and other gun pwners keep standing up for their rights. If something doesn't suit you it doesn't automatically mean it's wrong and should go away. It just means it doesn't suit you. Try telling two men or women they can't get married because it doesn't suit you. They'll whine until they can. The right is the only side that is eventually forced to budge in the name of equality

  • bettyboopr2 Aug 29, 2014

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    why should I move from a place I have lived all my life because newcomers don't like what is going on????? If you don't like it......leave

  • Matt Price Aug 29, 2014

    "Neighbors say the shooting range brings noise and gunfire too close to their homes, and for years wanted the facility to adhere to county zoning laws."

    And you know what - I live about 5 miles away from it, know it is there, and hear it as well. Suck it up you whimps.

    This trash about being sensitive to gun file is insane. If that is their only complaint, then I think Drake landing should do something BIG.

    Like give each one of the whiners ear plugs.

  • Aug 29, 2014

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    According to you.

  • jwsawyer Aug 29, 2014

    What business is it of the government how a gun range is operated? Why does government want their hands in everything. There are government regulations on how toilet paper is made. Government intrusion is obscene.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 29, 2014

    So, I ask why private businesses should be able to ignore laws (like noise ordinances & codes) that the rest of us “regular” citizens have to follow…and someone flags that as inappropriate? Really?

    Can you at least tell us why you think that for-profit “people” (corporations are people, right?) have more rights than us regular tax-paying, law-abiding people?

  • WASP Aug 29, 2014

    "No rifles over .22 caliber and no handguns larger than a .45 caliber are allowed." Why even have the range if this is the restriction?

  • Scott Mace Aug 29, 2014

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    Everyone seems to be assuming that the stray rounds came from the range... when in reality, they most likely came from elsewhere. You know, people shooting in their back yards, etc... which more rifle shooters will most likely now do, since Drake's rifle range is closed.

    So in reality, this "compromise" might have actually created a MORE unsafe environment.

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