Local News

Military-style training event moved from Harnett County farm

Posted May 13, 2010 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2010 6:42 p.m. EDT

— A firearms training event won’t happen as planned on a Fuquay-Varina farm.

A three-day workshop planned for Memorial Day weekend at Drake Landing was canceled after WRAL News began asking questions.

The location, a family farm in Fuquay-Varina, has offered the training before under the umbrella of “agritourism,” a term the state defines as offering traditional rural activities to the public. Drake Landing offers amenities including a shooting range located about three-quarters of a mile from the road.

The owner of Viking Training, Melynda Lamb, said it conducted a day-and-night course at the farm before.

“There are no buffers. There’s no safety barriers or anything,” neighbor Kent Jeffries said.

“When you have 12 to 15 individuals all firing military style weapons at the same time, it’s very unpleasant,” Jeffries said.

Lamb said her company is committed to having a good relationship with neighbors. She said she was not aware of the concerns around Drake Landing until Wednesday and plans never to have a course there again.

Jeffries says he's not out to curb anyone's second amendment rights, saying he owns guns himself. He just thinks the farm should be better regulated.

“I’m not aware of any of the neighbors that have ever been consulted about any of these activities,” he said.

In a letter from the state Agriculture Department last year, the farm's shooting range was considered a traditional rural activity, no different from a sporting clays course, and exempt from county zoning laws.

Viking Tactics training events are open to civilians and cost $600 per person. Participants use semi-automatic weapons.

“We’ll certainly, as a county, be looking into to see where it falls as far as agritourism is concerned,” Harnett County Senior Planner Mark Locklear said.

Brian Long, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, said it’s ultimately up to local government to determine what constitutes agricultural activity: “We have no regulatory authority in a situation like this," he said.

County commissioner Dan Andrews owns the farm and his son manages it. Neither responded to several requests for comment.