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EDITORIAL: Archery range issues overblown

The role of government can be defined 300 million ways -- one for each American. Primarily, people want it to be an entity that agrees with and implements their personal desires. In actuality, government is a process. When the process goes their ...

The role of government can be defined 300 million ways -- one for each American. Primarily, people want it to be an entity that agrees with and implements their personal desires. In actuality, government is a process. When the process goes their way, people love it. When it doesn't, they scream foul.

That happened Monday in the town of Solon Springs. Opponents of a new archery range screamed foul because town board members declined to reconsider a Sept. 10 vote supporting the venture.

Government, whether in small towns or Washington D.C., can be complicated. Those who don't regularly attend meetings often don't understand legal procedures. In Solon Springs, they were followed to the letter.

  • Opponents said they weren't notified about plans to construct an archery range. But it's a moot point. There's no requirement for the town to poll residents about a development that conforms with zoning rules.
  • Opponents said their feelings about the archery range were inaccurately portrayed at the Sept. 10 board meeting. Although they could have attended, they didn't. Instead, they complained the issue was added at the very last minute to the board's agenda. That agenda, however, was publicly posted three days in advance of the meeting. That's the requirement, and it was met.
  • Because they missed the September meeting and did not object to the project, opponents felt the board was obligated to reconsider their vote. Governmental rules of order, however, stipulate a reconsideration can only occur if supported by a majority of board members. That support didn't exist Monday, so legally, the board could neither host a new discussion nor a new vote.

Now, the debate moves to Douglas County's Zoning Committee, which will take the town's recommendation into account when considering a special use permit. At that time, opponents can voice their concerns, which include safety, additional traffic and tournament noise levels. But that doesn't mean they'll be taken seriously.
Archers are enthusiastic and dedicated hobbyists, but their numbers are very small when compared with the overall population. In other words, they won't exactly create a traffic jam if the range takes root on Baldwin Avenue. And unlike a shooting range, an archery range doesn't generate much noise, even at a tournament.

Although safety has been cited as a prime concern among neighbors, it's an even greater concern among archers, gun owners and everyone who ever uses a practice range. Their goal is to enhance proficiency so they can always strike their target. Safety rules at such facilities are tightly enforced, which is why injuries are so few.

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Playing the safety card is a great way to stir emotions, but so far, no evidence -- real or anecdotal -- has been introduced that shows archery ranges pose a danger to neighbors.

Hopefully, representatives on both sides of this issue will voice their views to county zoning officials -- mindful that knowledge is power when it comes to government. You've got to understand how the system works, then approach it with proof to support your opinions.

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