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Skeet shooting a hot topic for Willoughby City Council

March 8, 2018 GMT

Skeet shooting a hot topic for Willoughby City Council

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Residents living near Kirtland Country Club are angry that noise from the club’s skeet shooting range continues to be a source of seasonal misery.

About 10 of them came to Willoughby City Council this week, imploring the city to help. The club is in Willoughby. Most of the people complaining about the noise live in Willoughby, Waite Hill, Kirtland and Kirtland Hills.

“We just want to end the noise,” said Robert Toma of Waite Hill.

Dr. Christine Marsick, Toma’s wife, said the noise has been an issue for them since they moved to Waite Hill two years ago and she fears the effect it could have on property values.

Scott Haymer of Kirtland said his 10-year-old daughter she is afraid to leave the house when the range is being used because, she said, “all I hear is bang, bang, bang.”

The range is open Saturdays and Sundays from November to the end of March.

The dispute has been going on for at least a year. The latest round of complaints and quests for solutions comes after the city lost a court case over whether it had the ability to pull a permit that its planning commission issued in 2015.

At the time, the city passed a law allowing skeet shooting at private country clubs at the request of Kirtland Country Club. Mayor Robert Fiala said the club had hoped the shooting range would help build its membership.

But in 2017, the city, acting on complaints, revoked the permit. The club sued the city and won.

Lake County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell ruled that the city could not revoke the permit.

The judge said the city based its revocation on noise complaints, even though the permit contained no noise condition. He added that there was no evidence on the record that the skeet range “violated OSHA, EPA, or state or local noise standards.

John Wiles, the city’s law director, said the city spent $32,000 to defend itself in the fight.

Residents on Tuesday urged council to repeal the law that allowed the range in the first place. Wiles said even if it did, it would not affect the Kirtland Country Club since it already exists.

The mayor said in a phone call Thursday that legislation is being drafted that would bar any more shooting ranges and would signal to people “that we are serious.”

Meanwhile, Fiala also said the city would enforce all of the conditions that the club had to satisfy to get the permit, including days and hours of operation, limits on shotgun size, ammunition, and a requirement that a berm be built to mitigate the noise.

He said failure to comply would allow the city to revoke the permit.

Kevin Potter, president of Kirtland City Council, said Peter Joyce, the club’s president, assured him that they would reduce the noise level “to 50 percent or better.”

Joyce declined comment when reached by The Plain Dealer.