Archery club wins latest shootoutA proposed Solon Springs archery range cleared its latest hurdle Wednesday when an appeal by county residents opposed to the project was denied by the Board of Adjustment.
By: Maria Lockwood, The Daily Telegram
A proposed Solon Springs archery range cleared its latest hurdle Wednesday when an appeal by county residents opposed to the project was denied by the Board of Adjustment.
“We’re very pleased, obviously,” said Mike Blaylock, secretary and treasurer of Solon Springs Bowhunters Inc.
Neighbors contesting construction of the range along Baldwin Avenue weren’t ready to throw in the towel.
“This was a stepping stone to court, and we all knew it,” said Jane Russell of Solon Springs.
In February, they filed to appeal a Jan. 9 decision by the Douglas County Planning and Zoning Committee to grant a conditional use permit for the private archery course.
Wednesday, the Board of Adjustment modified the permit, effectively denying the appeal.
“Safety is paramount,” said board member Dale Johnson. “Everything they have proposed seems to be in line.”
Neighbors continued to voice safety concerns about setting the range in the midst of the growing residential area, which is zoned agricultural.
“This is a well-used road for recreation,” said Ron Finstad of Solon Springs. “It’s a very poor choice of locations.”
Although bowhunters will be shooting parallel with Baldwin Avenue, he said, nobody’s perfect and arrows could be discharged in the wrong direction.
“This is the fourth-largest county in the state of Wisconsin,” said Pat Finstad of Gordon. “They sure could find a better place for this.”
Larry Kline, a member of the bowhunting club, said the group searched for a year and a half to find the right property.
“We decided that this is a Solon project,” he told the board. “People in Solon started it. We wanted to keep it in town.”
The Board of Adjustment did tweak the permit. The club must now notify adjoining property owners of upcoming events, such as club shoots, a week in advance. The original permit required 24-hour notice. The board also added two new provisions — a gate at the entrance of the property and setting targets at least 100 feet from the east property line.
Following the hearing, opponents said they felt board members had decided to support the project ahead of time. Board members denied it.
“My mind was not made up,” said Larry Luostari.
“We can only go by what’s legal,” said fellow board member, Robert Brown. “If what zoning did was completely within ordinance, we have to uphold it.”
Blaylock told board members the club has already met two of the requirements of its conditional use permit. The club is affiliated with the National Field Archery Association and has verbal confirmation of insurance for the range until May 10, 2009. Other conditions include placing signs along the border of the property and planting a buffer line of trees on the west property line.
Although Wednesday’s decision was a victory for the bowhunters, they did express disappointment on one front.
“We never wanted it to cause problems or hardships among any of our neighbors,” Blaylock said.
And, he emphasized, “Safety is going to be our No. 1 concern.”
One of the conditions of the permit is a review after one year. At that point, members of the Zoning Committee can choose to either renew, modify or deny the permit.
Or, it can move on in the appeals process. The next step, should dissenters choose to take it, would be an appeal in circuit court.