It was standing room only at Monday’s meeting of the Yadkin County Board of Adjustments as many members of the Courtney-Huntsville community came to express opposition to a conditional use permit for a proposed gun range. The property in question is located on the west side of Wagon Wheel Road, at the end of the road with the Turner Creek being the southern border of that parcel.
The permit was denied by the board in a unanimous vote.
The permit request was made by Kirk Peavy, a firearms instructor. The proposed ranged was to be a membership-only range but also offer classes and possible training for law enforcement with hours scheduled Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Our main goal here is to push for the second amendment, but a safe environment to do so,” Peavy said as he began his presentation. Michael Boyer, an attorney for Peavy’s company, was also part of the presentation.
Board of Adjustments Chairman Richard Foster questioned Peavy and his attorney, particularly on the issue of the noise levels that would come from such a range.
Peavy and his colleagues said the range would have all the necessary safety procedures in place to keep stray bullets from leaving the facility and to keep noise levels down.
The hearing became intense at times as Foster questioned the results of the Acoustic Decibel Survey submitted on behalf of the project.
The property has yet to be purchased for the project, and property owners Steve Felts and John Shipley also spoke briefly at the hearing. Felts said the gun range did not have “his blessing” unless the community was in support of it and if approved by the board.
“Without your approval and without our friends and neighbors approving, we don’t plan to sell the property,” Felts told the board.
How the noise of gun range could lower property values, as well as the safety and stress levels for area children, veterans and those who work third shift and have to sleep during the day, were just a few of the issues brought to the board’s attention in regard to the proposal.
Rovette Jones spoke on behalf of two black churches which host many indoor and outdoor activities at various times.
“It’s always been a peaceful, loving community, we can’t have this, and we don’t want this. We don’t want our kids a nervous wreck,” she said as she pleaded with the board.
Foster asked about the age of the churches, both of which have been part of the area for more than 100 years.
A local Realtor involved with a second phase of the Big Woods Farm development, which has property abutting the proposed gun range site, said it would “negate the ability to develop the property.”
Rodney Scott, who lives in the community and works third shift summed up his feelings saying, “as far as these decibels, we’re all country people, we all shoot guns, we’re all gun owners. You shoot a gun, it’s going to make a sound, don’t care what kind of gun you’ve got.”
He said sleeping during the day is already a challenge without any additional noise from a nearby gun range.
Cleve Hollar, a longtime member of the community and former county school superintendent, said the proposed range was a particularly bad deal for the black community in the Courtney-Huntsville area. Hollar said in his 80 years of living near the black community, he had never known of law enforcement having to come to the area for any disturbances, he said he couldn’t say the same for other neighboring areas.
“They are the most law-abiding, God-fearing people and quiet community that there is and this is how they’re being rewarded. The county is going to open a garbage dump against their north side almost any day, and unfortunately county officials are having to consider putting a shooting range against their south side. That’s not right, it just really isn’t right,” Hollar said.
From his experience as an educator, he also spoke to the stress the range could cause for area children.
“Today, our parents and school children, it’s not easy. They have many more problems than we had. The only problem I can think of when I was going to school, I’d miss a day and have to work in the tobacco field,” he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.
“We don’t need to put fear into the parents’ and students’ problems,” Hollar said.
Boyer gave several rebuttal comments in response to the many comments from those opposed to the range.
“There are other areas in the state that have seen similar growth of high-priced properties that have actually sold quicker on average with a shooting range across the street,” Boyer said, to uproarious laughter from those in attendance.
Peavy again reiterated the protocols in place that would help to lessen the sound of gunfire from the range.
Foster gave his thoughts on denying the permit ahead of the final vote.
“I think the data submitted was totally insufficient. I think that there is not a legal standing for the applicant. I further think that the existence of a minority community adjacent to this requires a special handling on it. I think these 100-year-old churches deserve some respect,” Foster said.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.