View Full Version : Gun range owner says he's unfairly targeted by city

12-28-2007, 1:26 PM
You'd think from reading the article that this was happening in CA...but no. :eek:

By Sara McDonald
The Daily News
Published December 27, 2007


LEAGUE CITY — Records show that top city officials spent at least seven months discussing how to shut down a gun range, a move range owner Ernest Randall says is aimed at helping a developer build homes in the area.

City Attorney Dick Gregg’s billing records show he participated in a series of meetings about how to “characterize a gun range as a nuisance and ultimately have it removed.” The legal fees cost taxpayers more than $6,000 from May to November.

Involved in the planning were Mayor Jerry Shults, City Administrator Chris Reed, other senior staff members and developer Sam Boyd, who gave $4,000 to Shults’ campaign in August 2005.

The records show Gregg billed the city for gun range discussions with the mayor at least seven times and for conversations with Boyd at least five times.

For more than a week, The Daily News made phone calls and sent e-mails to Shults asking questions about the range. Shults’ assistant called to say he had “no further comment on any of the issues.”

Gregg did not return phone calls asking for comment. Randall, who has owned the Clear Creek Gun Range since 1976, said he thinks Shults is helping homebuilders who’ve been trying to buy his land for years.

A Nuisance?

In a July 31 e-mail, Gregg said that “many perceive the gun range ... to be a nuisance” and said he’d been asked to pursue its removal.

What makes the range near FM 1266 and state Highway 96 a problem isn’t clear. Correspondence between Gregg and Boyd shows that the developer’s attorney offered a list of possible issues the city could raise.

That e-mail, from Aug. 2, said that, if the range were contaminated with lead, it could be in violation of federal and state environmental laws.

In November, that reason was passed along to the city council in a memo from Gregg. It said lead shot had been found in a church parking lot on nearby property. Gregg didn’t answer questions about which church had problems, but New Hope Baptist Church is the nearest church to the range. Pastor Richard Sumner said he hasn’t found lead in the parking lot in five or six years.

“We haven’t had any problems in some time,” he said. “They made some modifications, and there’s been nothing since then.”

Randall said he built planks of wood over the targets to deflect shots after he learned of problems.

Another nearby church, Gloria Dei, bought property near the range but hasn’t built on it yet. Council members Tim Paulissen and Mike Barber, as well as Randall, said that Gregg claimed the church wasn’t going to build on the property because of the gun range.

Gloria Dei’s executive director, Vince Parks, said that wasn’t true and the church is in the process of raising money for the new building.

Neither the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulates shooting ranges, spokeswomen from those agencies said. The federal bureau does license ranges that sell guns, a license Randall said he’s had since 1976. Larger ranges are required to register with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but Randall’s range isn’t large enough to require registration, commission spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said.

The commission is also the agency that would investigate complaints of excess lead in the area, but has never opened an investigation into Randall’s gun range or been asked to, Morrow said.

Compliance With Codes

City staff didn’t answer the following questions posed by The Daily News:

• Why were the city attorney and staff members meeting with a developer about a city business?

• Were representatives of this business invited to these meetings?

• Is it normal for a developer to be involved in these types of procedures?

• Why is the gun range considered a possible public nuisance?

•What attempts were made to contact Randall about problems with his business?

Instead, city spokeswoman Kristi Wyatt responded to those questions with a statement saying that the property was out of compliance with zoning regulations.

The business was registered with the city in 1991, but when zoning was adopted in 1999, the land was zoned office commercial. It was later rezoned for single-family homes in August 2005. Neither of the zoning designations would have allowed a gun range. The city sent a letter to Randall notifying him he could change his zoning without a fee in 2005, but he didn’t ask for a change.

Randall said a city staff member told him there would be no problems with the zoning changes when he left for a five-month trip to Alaska in 2005. When he returned, his zoning had changed.

But because the business existed before zoning did, it was grandfathered in.

The city statement says the property and business appears to have changed hands, which would nullify the grandfather statues.

But Randall’s attorney, George Kurisky, said the business has always been owned and operated by Randall.

Randall allows an instructor, Al Trug, to teach a course at the range required for people wanting concealed handgun licenses. Trug filed for a business permit for his classes after a city employee told him to, which may have been why the city thought the business changed hands, Kurisky said.

“I’ve had eight or 10 instructors use my range over the years,” Randall said. “It’s never been a problem.”

But Barber said he thinks the city is trying to find problems with the range.

“It’s not as if all the sudden at 8 p.m. he serves alcohol and has a strip tease,” Barber said. “There’s no change of use. Why the city would say your action isn’t permitted, I don’t know. I think they did that because they’re trying bully him.”

Future Home Sites

Randall said that, in the past five years, he’s had at least six meetings with Boyd in which the developer offered to buy his land.

The closest they came to striking a deal was when they discussed Boyd leasing a part of the small lake behind the range, but that deal fell through, Randall said.

Randall said developers told him they want the 60-acre lake to use as a detention pond if they build homes.

Randall also claims developers said they couldn’t get financing for building the homes with the gun range active.

Gregg’s memo said the land is slated for residential development but doesn’t elaborate.

About 20 acres of the lake was recently bought by home developer Bob Perry, Randall said.

‘Political Interference’

The issue caused Randall to call on council members for help.

After that, Paulissen asked for copies of the city attorney’s bills, which detail seven months of meetings and research that Gregg said was part of “normal, behind-the-scenes efforts.”

“What is not normal is political interference in that process,” Gregg’s memo said. “Apparently, the two council members have already decided what they want to do, though it has not yet been on any public agenda.”

Meanwhile, it appears the city is continuing to pursue plans to shut down the range.

A city contractor e-mailed Reed and former city administrator Mike Clawson in October, documents released through an open records request show. In the e-mail, the contractor said he heard from Clawson that Reed needed help with ammunition cleanup at a gun range.

City staff, Gregg and the two councilmen met with Randall last week. After the meeting, Kurisky said it’s still unclear what laws the city thinks the range is violating. He asked that the specific allegations be given to him in writing.

Barber said it’s not just him and Paulissen who have gotten involved.

“The real story is that Sam Boyd has a relationship with (Shults) to make the deal work,” he said. “The mayor got personally involved to investigate ways to shut him down.”

12-28-2007, 2:16 PM
If it was California, he'd already be shutdown.

12-28-2007, 2:45 PM
If it was California, he'd already be shutdown.

And it would be in the new because it would have involved several SWAT teams, a few armored cars, and the media would have outnumbered both the police and the range users due to the Chief calling the lazy ar$e media looking for their 3 minute video for the 6and11pm news casts telling them he had a juicy one for the ratings.

Then we would here things like.
....several men detained with large high caliber assualt semi automatic high capacity weapons with sniper scopes that could kill someone at over a mile and shoot down airplanes with 400 passengers from a mile....

....discovered several large arsenals of ammunition and firearms and investigating any relations to Hell's Angels, LA Drug Gangs, Al Quada, or white supremist cult groups....

......toxic impregnated soil leaching lead into the water supply of over 60,000 residents within a 15 mile radius.....

......discovered a bomb making factory as large stockpiles of very high explosive powderes were found....

.....Enough weaponary to make an army that could threaten the tri-county area....

.....no law enforcement agents were injured in the raid though several shots were fired at dangerously armed men when they failed to disarm as requested (from the no knock warrant of 2 dozen men dressed as black ninjas descended upon the place yelling get down or I will shoot and aiming firearms at women and children and violently throwing everyone down to the ground and gun barrels pointed at babies)........

and so on...

At least in this state thre apparently are some pro-constitutional media reporting the story with accuracy pointing out it is nothing more than what has been going on for thousands of years .....just another attempted land grab by the greedy to become more powerful and rich by steeling by any means anothers lawfully owned property.

......and the second most important reason our fathers and fathers fathers and fathers fathers fathers stressed the importance of such things as free speech and right to own and bear weapons was to protect one's properties from the carpet bagger land grabbers...

I hope they do a recall of these greedy selfish council members.

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12-28-2007, 2:50 PM
And the mall ninja from the Saiga forums would be there to go to condition 4 and tackle the perp.

Then the cops would buy him ice cream as a reward, he likes ice cream