Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — After two lengthy meetings to determine whether a Harnett County shooting range should be stripped of its agritourism status, the county Board of Adjustment has delayed its decision for two more weeks.
The board will meet again on Jan. 23 to resume testimony that will decide the fate of Drake Landing, a family-owned farm in Fuquay-Varina with a shooting range that has been at the center of controversy for more than a year because neighbors say the gunfire is noisy and poses a safety hazard.
No one has been injured at the range, but the Harnett County Sheriff's Office reports there have been at least five cases of stray bullets hitting cars and homes in the area. It's unclear, though, if any or all of the those bullets were fired from Drake Landing.
The shooting range falls under the state's agritourism classification, which means it isn't subject to county zoning laws. It was approved as an agritourism destination because the shooting range prepared hunters for use of Drake Landing's hunting preserve, county leaders said.
A Drake Landing attorney said it qualifies as agritourism and that neighbors' complaints don't change that.
If county leaders decide to strip its agritourism designation, however, the shooting range could be subject to more rules and restrictions or could be forced to close entirely.
A county zoning inspector said during Thursday's meeting that it's unclear what would happen, because there haven't been many disputes of this type in North Carolina to set a precedent.
Drake Landing customers want to see the shooting range survive and say it's a great place to practice safe shooting techniques.
"Where else are you going to have for people to do responsible practice shooting?" said Sue Allen. "I don't hear excessive noise. It is not like a firing range."
But neighbors say it's a nuisance.
"It goes on continuously – all the time," said Lynwood Hare, who lives about a half-mile from the shooting range. "Somebody is going to be shot, hit or killed before it's all over with."
Hare said he's lived in his home since the 1970s, decades before Drake Landing opened.
The owner of Drake Landing, former county commissioner Dan Andrews, declined to comment.