Thursday, February 9, 2012
Sale Creek neighbors who want a shooting range operated by former Red Bank police chief Ronnie Dodd shut down are going to trial after their motion for summary judgment was denied by Chancery Court Judge Jeffrey Atherton.
The neighbors asked the judge to rule on the legality of the manner in which Dodd obtained the permit for the range. They argued that Dodd’s request to the Hamilton County Board of Zoning Appeals for a conditional use permit for “low intensity outdoor use” should be deemed void due to the vague nature of the term. Neighbors believe that phrasing — used in the notice they received of the BZA hearing — did not convey Dodd’s true intention of operating a range, and they therefore did not attend the original hearing.
“He [Atherton] couldn’t rule on it with the small amount of information that he had and wanted an opportunity to hear more about it,” Carl Lindkvist said in regards to the most recent hearing. Lindkvist lives 150 feet from the range and is one of the neighbors suing Dodd.
“I’m glad that the court ruling came down like it did,” said Dodd. “I followed county protocol from the county mayor all the way down.”
Renee Grace, Dodd’s adjoining neighbor who is also a plaintiff in the case, said the prosecution’s lawyers are currently gathering witnesses for the trial, for which a date will most likely not be set until March or April.
“We’re not dropping it,” said Grace, adding that she has taken out a home equity credit loan to pay lawyer bills. “I look at it as an investment.”
Dodd said he tries to be sensitive to his neighbors by not shooting after 9 p.m. or on Sundays.
“I’ve tried to be as cooperative as I can,” he said. “I slipped up one Sunday. It’s not like we’re out there shooting lead at midnight.”
He said he experiences continuous harassment from neighbors, such as piling horse manure near the bays at the range, blowing air horns while he is trying to hold classes and knocking down his sign at the road.
“I try to be a good neighbor,” said Dodd. “I don’t shoot every day. I don’t shoot every week.”
Grace admits to blowing an air horn on one occasion, as well as to spreading the manure.
“We do spread manure on our pastures,” she said. “We have a farm; that’s what you do.”