Local News

Harnett shooting range can operate as is, but debate isn't over

Posted January 24, 2013
Updated January 25, 2013

— The Harnett County Board of Adjustments voted Thursday night to allow Drake Landing farm and shooting range to keep its agritourism classification, but county leaders are already working on a plan that would overrule that decision and prohibit firing ranges from being agritourism destinations. 

After four lengthy nights of testimony over the past three weeks, the board decided to break down their decision into eight individual activities at issue on the family-owned farm in Fuquay-Varina.

Hunting preserves, continental tower shoots, archery shoots, sporting clays and skeet and trap shoots on the land all qualify as agritourism, the board agreed, but they were divided on the rifle shooting range and pistol pits.

Three board members said the rifle range and pistol pits are not connected to farming in any way and should require a conditional use permit. Two board members, however, upheld a 2011 finding that the conditional use permit wasn't necessary.

Because the board couldn't reach a four-fifths majority to ban the activities, Drake Landing can continue to allow both, despite protests from neighbors that the ranges are noisy and pose a safety hazard to the surrounding communities.

However, the county Board of Commissioners have already directed county attorneys to draft a resolution that would disallow shooting ranges from being considered agritourism – a classification that exempts certain agricultural operations and activities from county zoning laws. 

The commissioners can override the Board of Adjustment's vote, but it wasn't clear when they plan to meet on the issue.

30 Comments

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  • fkhaywood Jan 25, 4:04 p.m.

    I attended a 'hunter safety course' on this land (taught by Dan Adrews son) back in the earlier 1990's. The couse was set up to teach a Boy Scout Troop the proper use of shotguns. As the Committee Chairman of this Troop, I also took the course. The subdivions did not exist back then, only some house along Rawls Road. My son took the course and is now a hunter!

  • SARCASTICLES Jan 25, 3:53 p.m.

    Well now, bronco611...we actually agree on your point that "It's amazing to me how this country has turned into a land where a handfull of complainers can ruin something beneficial for the majority"

    Do us all a favor and send a copy of that to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner....they don't seem to realize the majority is being ruined by a handfull of complainers who lost the last election, and that their complaints are seriously exaggerated.

  • bronco611 Jan 25, 3:19 p.m.

    "With all the complaints from the neighbors, I would just close it down... and put in 10 hog houses. Open a slaughter house and smoke house. Then give tours to all the FFA classes and 4-H clubs. See if the neighbors like what they can smell more than what they hear..." mj1angier

    Good point! File that one in the "be careful what you ask for" category...

  • bronco611 Jan 25, 3:11 p.m.

    It's amazing to me how this country has turned into a land where a handful of complainers can ruin something beneficial for the majority. While I'm sure the noise may irritate some "sensitive" neighbors, I believe a lot of these complaints are seriously exaggerated. The facility is run well, and the noise does not carry far enough to be a real concern. They have taken steps to keep any bullets from leaving the property by installing berms and by limiting the shot angles from the rifle tower. Drake's offer a PUBLIC SERVICE to hundreds if not thousands of gun owners who NEED a place to shoot (places that are getting harder and harder to find). Now, go figure - a few complainers want to shut it down. Don't let some of these reports mislead you if you haven't been there - Drake Landing is located way out in the country on hundreds of acres of wooded land. They could probably relocate to the moon and some bozo would move in next door and start complaining about the noise...

  • SARCASTICLES Jan 25, 2:30 p.m.

    Thirty years ago around here, the population density was much lower than it is now, so shooting guns on your property was no big deal.

    Now that a good chunk of the farmland has been developed into home sites and subdivisions, common sense SHOULD recognize that it's too crowded to shoot guns like we used to.

    There's a good reason discharging a firearm in the city limits is usually illegal.....there's so many people living in a small area.

    It's also extremely unnerving to hear continuous gunfire, especially when you're out in your yard. (YES...around here it's not unusual to hear shot raining down, or hear a stray bullet whizzing by. NO....asking them to stop doesn't work, and since it's legal out here, the sheriff's dept. can't do anything about it. YES....I was living here WAY before the firing squad moved in next door. NO....I'm not a socialist.

    We'd rather not get together and lobby the county for new zoning restrictions against gunfire in the community, but enough is enough.

  • mj1angier Jan 25, 2:04 p.m.

    With all the complaints from the neighbors, I would just close it down... and put in 10 hog houses. Open a slaughter house and smoke house. Then give tours to all the FFA classes and 4-H clubs. See if the neighbors like what they can smell more than what they hear...

  • moonpie Jan 25, 1:23 p.m.

    How is a gun range 'agritourism"?

  • Not_Time_Yet Jan 25, 11:45 a.m.

    Just because shots can be heard at a location that doesn't mean they are too loud. I doubt the noice decible level from the range is anywhere near that of a neighbors lawn mower, leaf blower, weed whacker, UPS delivery truck, etc,.. Sorry but in daytime hours no one can complain about every little noise.

    That being said I would hope the range decides to upgrade the pitol pit and rifle range back stops which should resolve any question of safety. Make them higher and wider, plus provide some wood frame structure which would buffer the noise.

  • oleguy Jan 25, 11:43 a.m.

    Noise,, They build an interstate just behind my house,,I hear cars and trucks 24 / 7 / 365.. And some gun fire..

  • lazydawg58 Jan 25, 11:35 a.m.

    davisgw- One witness for DL was a retired Raleigh PD officer that operated the RPD range for several years. He was an expert on all things related to shooting ranges and testified that DL was as well configured and safe as the RPD range or any other he had been on. He went into detail about the concerns you noted and all were addressed in the DL setup.

    As far as who was there first, Andrews Farm was there before any of the houses. Some of the housing developments were there before DL began operation and some came in later.

    The gentleman that is the driving force in the group that is fighting to close DL is a large property owner with land bordering the Andrews Farm. This would be land that he might want to sell for a housing development. What might his true motive for leading this effort be, safety or land value? Always remember the first rule, follow the money.

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