FUQUAY-VARINA: Harnett Co. commissioners vote against shooting r - WNCN: News, Weather

Harnett Co. commissioners vote against shooting range

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Up until now the county’s Board of Commissioners sided with Drake Landing allowing them to operate under an agritourism permit which lets the farm host shooting range activities. Up until now the county’s Board of Commissioners sided with Drake Landing allowing them to operate under an agritourism permit which lets the farm host shooting range activities.
FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. - It’s a battle that’s divided Harnett County for years. Homeowners living near Drake Landing, a family owned company that bills itself as a farm with shooting range activities, have been battling to revoke Drake’s agritourism permit and stop their shooting range activities.

On Tuesday, the Harnett County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously after years of siding with Drake Landing to not appeal a ruling by the superior court that concluded Drake Landing’s activities did not fall under the category of agriculture and “bona fide farm purposes.”


Harnett County homeowner Glenn Finch, has been fighting to strip Drake Landing of their agritourism permit ever since he said three of their bullets hit his home in the last two years.

Up until now the county’s Board of Commissioners sided with Drake Landing allowing them to operate under an agritourism permit which lets the farm host shooting range activities.

Joe Miller, chairman of the Harnett County board of commissioners said, “We’ve been on the side of Drake Landing because up until this point it has been classified, as far as the state’s concerned, as agritourism.”

In a statement to WNCN news, John Bryant, a lawyer representing Drake Landing said,

    “My clients have always conducted their operation under the welcomed and watchful eye of Harnett County officials who the statutes direct     decide. Going forward, have no intention of changing that history.  Accordingly, if we decide to Appeal, the Appellate Courts could still     disagree with us about what paying money to have fun on a farm means as it relates to agritourism saving family farms from subdivisions     and cul-de-sacs.   We are aware of Harnett County Conditional Use Permits currently in effect for gun ranges not even located on bona fide     farms and where neighboring homes are much closer to those recreational facilities than my clients neighbors are from my clients’     recreational facilities. 

    In numbered paragraph 2, Judge Gilchrist’s Order confirmed that “all” the objections of the Petitioners about the “admissibility or exclusion     of evidence” were “without merit and overruled”.  The Board of Adjustment was amazingly patient allow the Petitioners to submit into     evidence all sorts of irrelevant stuff.  It was commendable to see what a volunteer Board was willing to make themselves endure in the name     of fairness and they bent over backward for the Petitioners who were representing themselves.    

    Judge Gilchrist Order describes reliance upon the Transcript of the hearing from April 11, 2011, which was held without notice to and     participation of my clients or me in their behalf.  We intervened only after that 2011 hearing when the matter was appealed by the Petitioners     to Superior Court the first time.  WE moved to Intervene when we learned the Petitioners were trying to shut my clients’ enterprise down     without providing either notice to us or any opportunity to be heard to defend the operation.  We weren’t there in 2011 for that hearing and     there is no transcript properly part of the record of the remanded proceedings now, in my view.

    Judge Gilchrist’s Order holds that as a matter of law all of the activities he lists are not “agriculture” or “bona fide farm purposes”, but fall     under “non-farm uses” described in another section of that same statute, rendering the facts related to the operations unnecessary for the     Court to consider.  That other statute, NCGS 106-581.1, incorporates another statue which says that “agriculture” includes “agritourism”.      “Agritourism Activity” is likewise statutorily defined as “any activity carried out on a farm…that allows members of the general public, for     recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities…or natural activities….” [N.C.G.S. 99E-30] 


The county has consistently ruled in favor of Drake Landing and that’s why the decision by the Board of Commissioners this time around was surprising.

“It’s expensive and as a board we came to the conclusion that after talking with our county’s attorney’s the best thing we can do is not appeal the ruling,” Miller said.

Bryant said the owners are still deciding if they plan on appealing the superior court’s decision.

Drake Landing will have until April 16, to appeal.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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