Two proposed gun ranges shot down in Columbia County

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
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Neighbors have been fighting the one in Grovetown for years. About a dozen people who live near the Newmantown Gun Club showed up Thursday night to try to keep the property from being rezoned for a gun range. They say the noise is a disturbance, but the biggest issue is safety after they found bullet holes in homes nearby.

(WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- The score is now neighbors two gun ranges zero after a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in Columbia County.

One property is in Harlem, the other in Grovetown.

Neighbors have been fighting the one in Grovetown for years. About a dozen people who live near the Newmantown Gun Club showed up Thursday night to try to keep the property from being rezoned for a gun range. They say the noise is a disturbance, but the biggest issue is safety after they found bullet holes in homes nearby.

In June deputies issued a cease and desist order for the property. The owner appealed and it was continued until Thursday night's meeting.

Neighbors showed up ready for a fight, but got a surprise. The appeal was removed from the agenda and the application for rezoning was withdrawn.

"We don't know why they decide to withdraw the application. I don't have any idea why. I know there was a sheriff's department investigation into the bullet holes in the homes," said neighbor Bobbie Bauserman. "I'm just glad it stopped because the peace has come back to the neighborhood."

The commission accepted that with the condition the owner can't reapply for at least six months. They also told neighbors to call the sheriff's office if needed.

"Situations like this where somebody has taken advantage of the system and stepped around the system frankly makes it difficult for everybody involved," said Planning and Zoning Vice Chair Jim Cox.

Another group of neighbors showed up to fight a proposed range near Harlem.

The owners of Feathered Friends were asking to put a gun range there. They say they want a place for children to learn proper gun control, but neighbors and the mayor worry about noise and safety.

In the end the rezoning was denied meaning the gun range won't happen there either.

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News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

EVANS, Ga. (WRDW) -- A gun range went under fire Thursday night at the Columbia County Planning Commission.

Paul Blankenship operates a gun range on his private property, but code enforcement and neighbors said it's not zoned for that.

In June, code enforcement sent a cease and desist order for violating multiple codes because it's not properly zoned as a gun range.

Neighbors say it's a nuisance and a safety concern.

"It's like a bomb going off," said Jerry Braun about the gunshots she hears everyday.

She and her husband are both veterans and her husband suffers from PTSD. They say it has gotten much worse since the range opened next door in 2010.

"He's taking it so hard because of his combat wounds," she said in tears.

The Brauns say they sold Paul Blankenship the property with the understanding he would build a house.

"There's no way in God's green earth that we would have sold that land to him if we had known he was putting a firing range in there," she said.

Around a dozen neighbors showed up at the Columbia County Zoning and Planning Commission Thursday night to fight against Blankenship's appeal to reopen the Gun Club.

"Grovetown doesn't want this, I don't want this, my neighborhood doesn't want this and it needs to stop," said neighbor Bobbie Bauserman.

An attorney for Blankenship says they aren't violating any codes because the range is not for commercial use.
"The range has been used historically by Mr. Blankenship personally," said Attorney James Overstreet.

Neighbors quickly disputed that fact.

"I've heard that Mr. Blankenship uses this for his personal situation. That's not true. Show the video," said Bauserman.

The video showed tents set up and cars parked at the range along with constant gunfire.

"It happens several days a week, hours at a time, day after day, weekends, holidays, anytime," said Bauserman.

They also showed pictures and video of bullet holes in nearby trailers on a neighbors property saying safety is an issue as well.

"Anybody traveling down Newmantown road or along the roads off Newmantown Road is at risk. It's just that simple," said Bauserman.

Right now it's zoned residential, but the range is planning to apply for a special permit. Neighbors say they just want it gone.

In the end the issue was tabled for 60 days. That is what Blankenship's attorney had asked for originally, but neighbors say they consider it a win as well giving them more time to rally the troops before they come back on November 7th.


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