A Kendall County zoning panel voted Monday evening to recommend against proposed changes to county rules regulating outdoor gun ranges.
The Zoning Board of Appeals voted, 4-2, against the changes, with Chairman Randy Mohr and board members Scott Cherry, Cliff Fox, and Tom LeCuyer voting no and Dick Thompson and Karen Clementi voting in favor of the changes.
A group of residents packed the room and voiced objections to the changes.
Matt Asselmeier, the county’s senior planner, explained that the County Board’s Planning, Building, and Zoning Committee initially brought the changes forward based on an outdoor shooting range that had been proposed on Church Road in unincorporated Lisbon Township in 2016. The developer of that proposed range later withdrew the project.
“After meeting with the existing gun club/ranges, the proposal evolved into its current version,” Asselmeier wrote in an email.
Among the proposed changes is eliminating a requirement that a proposed gun range be at least 1,000 feet away from the property line of an existing school, day care, place of worship or airstrip. The changes would also eliminate a current rule that requires shooting ranges to be on properties of at least 5 acres in size.
Another change is to allow a “qualified person” approved by the range owner to supervise the range and enforce the rules, rather than the current rule that requires a national, state or NRA-certified supervisor at the range at all times when firing is taking place.
Access must now be controlled by a locked, gated entrance. A proposed rule change would be to eliminate that and simply require a gated entrance with signs.
Resident Priscilla Gruber told the panel at Monday’s meeting that the changes did not address the concerns of residents.
“The intention of the proposal was to address noise and safety issues, and to tighten outdoor gun range restrictions,” she said.
Gruber referenced the lack of a 1,000-foot buffer from churches and schools as one of the many changes she was concerned about.
“How is a seven-day-per-week, many-hours-per-day, for-profit gun range desirable right next to a church or a school?” she said.
Gruber said the County Board’s zoning committee wants to approve or deny proposed gun ranges on a “case-by-case basis.”
“This is inviting unpredictability, inconsistency and favors to be considered,” she said. “That is government by men – or people – not government by rule of law, as I understand it.”
Mark Perle, who lives on Old Ridge Road, said he was concerned about private shooting ranges as well as commercial shooting ranges. Perle said some ranges charge for a service, but then turn around and claim that they are a private range. He said the county should limit the number of people allowed to shoot at a private range.
“There’s a tremendous amount of abuse going on,” Perle said.
Zach Barnwell of Plano, a member of the board of directors for the Barber Greene Hunting and Fishing Club in Oswego, said he heard the comments from the residents and that “many of which, I believe, are purely emotional responses to obviously something that’s very serious.”
Barnwell suggested that those concerned with noise write their lawmakers to support the legalization of suppressors in the state of Illinois.
“You’ll make firearms considerably quieter,” he said.