Judge rules county has to take another look at hunting preserve - WNCN: News, Weather

Judge rules county has to take another look at hunting preserve

By Annette Newell

A new shot at relief, for some Harnett County homeowners, who live near a hunting and shooting range.

The county's Board of Adjustment, will now have to listen to their concerns, about bullets hitting homes.

On a typical day, you can hear the guns firing from Drake Landing.

"Come home on a workday, greeted by gunfire," said homeowner Kent Jeffries. It's a greeting Jeffries doesn't enjoy. He says it's more than just a noise issue for property, that's been in his family since 1919.

"One of the homeowners has had his property hit at least three times by stray rifle bullets," said Jeffries.

A superior court judge ruled that Harnett County did not listen all the evidence Jeffries tried to present, when the Board of Adjustment agreed with county commissioners that Drake Landing is agritourism, and exempt from county zoning rules. The judge says the Board of Adjustment has to take another look.

Jeffries, who is President of the North Harnett Property Rights Association, said, "We just hope that by going back to the Board of Adjustment that they will look at the evidence objectively, not considering who owns the property."

That owner is Dan Andrews, the son of a county commissioner. We went to talk to him. He wasn't available.

Harnett's Planning Director Joseph Jeffries, though related to Kent Jeffries, is on the other side of the issue. He initially decided that Drake Landing is agritourism.

Joseph Jeffries said, "I wasn't influenced by anybody. I was trying to collect as much information, and make a good decision. And based on what's out there I think we did a fairly good job."

The judge's ruling means both sides will have the chance to fire off their arguments once again within the next six months. And Harnett County's Board of Adjustment will have to decide whether Drake Landing is mostly a shooting, or farming business.

Once the county board makes its decision, the battle can continue, and return to Superior Court. So far, the property owners have spent about $35,000 on the legal fight. Kent Jeffries says he doesn't want Drake Landing shut down, he just wants it to be subject to more regulations.

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