LILLINGTON: Drake Landing appeals order in agritourism dispute - WNCN: News, Weather

Harnett Co. shooting range appeals judge's order in agritourism dispute

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Neighbors argued Drake Landing should be regulated like a shooting range and should not be classified under the state's agritourism label because that exempts it from local zoning. Neighbors argued Drake Landing should be regulated like a shooting range and should not be classified under the state's agritourism label because that exempts it from local zoning.
LILLINGTON, N.C. -

A Harnett County business has filed an appeal regarding the decision by a superior court judge that it can not operate a shooting range on its farm property.

The attorney representing Drake Landing filed the notice of appeal on April 3, two days after the Harnett County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted not to appeal Judge C. Winston Gilchrist's decision.

Because the board voted not to appeal Gilchrist's decision, the county will not be involved in the appeal, said Kent Jeffries, spokesman for the North Harnett Property Rights Association.

Neighbors have long argued that Drake Landing should be regulated like a shooting range and should not be classified under the state's agritourism label because that exempts it from local zoning. But until last month, those appeals had been squashed on the basis that the business contended that it is a farm, and hunting and shooting are traditional farm activities.

However on March 17, Gilchrist ruled that the General Assembly "did not intend to include continental shooting towers, 3D archery courses and ranges, sporting clay, skeet and trap ranges, rifle ranges and pistol pits within the definition of 'agriculture.'"

Click Here to read the General Assembly's definition of "agriculture" (G.S. 106-581.1)

Some homeowners who live near the facility have reported bullets striking their houses, while others said the gunfire was inappropriate for areas as populated as their neighborhood.

"There's semi-automatic fire where people are just burning ammo instead of target shooting," said homeowner Ted Martin. "We really don't feel this is a legitimate activity for an area that's as congested as this area is."

Gilchrist ruled that this sort of activity was not intended to be included in the General Assembly's definition of "agriculture" or "bona fide farm purposes," and is "in fact non-farm uses." Therefore, he ordered, Drake Landing is not exempt from county zoning.

Gilchrist further ordered that the county's Board of Adjustment review parts of the case dealing with the operation of a hunting preserve.

Jeffries said the county's legal staff is waiting for clarification on Gilchrist's order for a re-hearing on hunting preserves.

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