Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Lawsuit Filed Against Private Gun Range Approval in Michigan

 Approximate boundaries of Leapers Farm

On July 12, 2022, the Northfield Township board voted unanimously (6-0) to grant a conditional use permit for a private gun range on Leapers ranch to be used for testing firearms optics. The range will be constructed five feet below ground level with a nine foot berm on either side for most of the proposed 600 yard range. There will be intermediate ranges to 100 and 200 yards. About 300 to 500 shots a day are expected.  On commenter at the hearing stated "85 decibels will be allowed at this site".

The final occupancy permit for the site will require sound testing before being granted.

85 decibels is about the sound of heavy traffic or a suppressed .22 rifle. It was not reported where the sound measurements would be taken.

On August 2, twelve residents of Northfield Township filed a lawsuit to reverse the decision of the County Board. From

LAKE, MI – Todd Brown, owner of Oasis Equestrian Center, has big concerns about a firearm optics testing facility going in across the street from his Northfield Township property – and he isn’t the only one.

Twelve residents of the township north of Ann Arbor have decided to take legal action against the township, after the facility was granted a conditional use permit on July 12. The residents filed a lawsuit in the Washtenaw County Trial Court on Aug. 2 seeking a reversal of the township board’s approval.

Leapers is an optics company which has expanded into shooting accessories. The company is based in Livonia, Michigan, on  the West side of Detroit, about 20 miles from the proposed range. Most of Leapers optics are made in Mainland China and in Taiwan.  From

Leapers, Inc. develops, manufactures, and distributes a wide range of innovative and technologically advanced hunting and shooting sport oriented products across a multitude of different platforms. We started out as a garage business, with a 4X28 compact scope as our first product. After more than 3 decades of hard work, Leapers is now located in a 4-building complex in Livonia, Michigan, with over 150,000 square feet of space for in-house product design, development, manufacturing, and advanced order fulfillment and distribution. Our UTG brand and its sister brand, the Made-in-USA UTG PRO, have gained wide market recognition and strong customer support across the globe. With manufacturing plants overseas as well as in Michigan, plus UTG Europe distribution center in Germany, we continue to dedicate our efforts to promoting the outdoor quality lifestyle and providing customers complete and total solutions for all their hunting and shooting needs. Innovation, quality, value, and service are the central themes of our brand.

The planning consultant for Northfield Township stated the range is within the allowed uses for what is currently zoned, AR, or agricultural. Gun ranges are specifically allowed and regulated. From the Norfield zoning regulations:


Gun clubs, subject to the following:

a. Individual ranges, areas containing more than one range, or the entire property shall be enclosed with a minimum six-foot chainlink fence with two strands of barbed wire stretched on arms sloping inward from the top of the fence. Range fencing shall enclose the range proper, backstop, side walls, or greenbelt, shotfall area for shotgun ranges, firing line, ready areas, and any other area in which a person might unwittingly subject himself to reasonable hazard.

From Northfieltownshopdocuments.

Planning consultant Vidya Krishnan noted the site is 81 acres and zoned AR, and gun ranges are permitted as a conditional land use. She noted the Planning Commission recommended approval of the conditional use permit with conditions on June 15 th , and clarified that this is not a conditional rezoning and not a variance. She explained this is not a use that would be allowed in the RTM zoning district because no outdoor use is allowed there, and AR is the proper district for this use. She added that if this were to be interpreted to be an industrial or commercial use, this use would be allowed by right in those districts, with no ability for the Township to set conditions for construction and operation. She also explained the difference between the Township’s Master Plan, which is a policy, and Zoning Ordinance, which is the law.

Opinion: This correspondent believes the persons filing a lawsuit to reverse the Town Board's unanimous decision will be unsuccessful. The zoning in question specifically allows for gun ranges.  With the Bruen decision, gun ranges are protected to some degree by the Second Amendment.

©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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