City of Delafield - The Common Council Thursday night in a joint meeting with the Plan Commission voted 5 to 1 to revoke the Hartland Sportsmans Club's conditional use permit with several council members encouraging the club to seek a new permit after making improvements in safety equipment and club operating procedures.
The council rejected a 4-3 recommendation by the Plan Commission that the gun club be allowed to continue to operate but its activities be limited to archery, air guns, wax bullets, and trap shooting. The commission's recommendations came after about two hours of debate that included about six different votes in an effort to agree on a recommendation to the council.
Three members of the Plan Commission successfully argued for amendments that appeared to dilute some of the findings of fact prepared by the city staff that concluded that the gun club had been in violation of its permit since it was issued in 1997,
Plan Commission member Kent Attwell argued that city has given other permit violators an opportunity to correct deficiencies without revoking their permit.
He asserted that over the past 12 years the club has been working with the city in an effort to improve its facilities. He argued the club deserved a chance to continue operating despite an April 29 incident where a 31 year old, 17 week pregnant, women was struck by a bullet that escaped from the club firing range while she was sitting on the outdoor patio of a nearby restuarant.
However, several members of the Common Council disagreed. They argued that the gun club has never been in complaince with the permit and has been the subject of numerous complaints from nearby residents. They suggested the shooting incident added credence to other unconfirmed complaints of bullets escaping the firing range and striking nearby homes and businesses.
Alderwoman Beth Leonard, in whose aldermanic district the gun club is located, pursuaded the council to restore most of the original language in the findings of fact drafted by City Administrator Tim Schuenke and City Attorney James Hammes.
Hammes advised the council that a new state law might prohibit the council from imposing any future restrictions on the club unless the council revoked the permit before the new law took effect on June 18.
Gun Club attorney Jon Wilcox hinted after the meeting that Hammes's interpretation of the law and differences in the findings of fact between the council and the Plan Commission might be grounds for a court appeal. However, Wilcox said the 130 members of the club would have to make a decision on whether to appeal or possibly apply for a new permit after making safety improvements.
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