The role of gun rights advocacy organizations in shaping a proposal to change zoning rules for outdoor shooting ranges in rural Kendall County was criticized by a county board member at a recent committee meeting.
The County Board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, to vote on whether to place a moratorium on approving outdoor shooting ranges until December of 2020.
A proposal has been drafted that would change the rules for special-use zoning for such ranges.
During a Committee of the Whole meeting held Thursday, Nov. 15, board member Audra Hendrix said the NRA had a hand in writing part of the proposed zoning change.
Hendrix also said she was “appalled” that a proposal written by citizens objecting to the changes was not included in the board members’ packet for review.
“I am appalled that the National Rifle Association are the people that are writing this ordinance, especially in light of all of the work that the citizens brought to you about what they want to do, because we represent the citizens and not the NRA,” Hendrix said. “I am not afraid of the NRA. If we propose this ordinance, it’s so loose that they will be able to sue us for anything at anytime. And while I’m not for taking guns away from people, because I myself enjoy shooting, this is a slap in the face to the people of Kendall County.”
Hendrix said she will “never vote yes for this” and that the board should be able to come up with a solution that deals with issues of safety and noise.
“This, provided by the NRA, is like having drug dealers write your drug policy,” she said. “Absolutely not.”
Board member Matt Kellogg, who is a member of the board’s Planning, Building, and Zoning Committee, said the NRA did not have a hand in writing the rules. Kellogg said he is “the one that started this.”
“The NRA didn’t just write this; we’ve been working on this for 14 months,” Kellogg said.
During an August Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on the topic, David Lombardo, a consultant with Safer USA, and president of the Aurora Sportsmen’s Club in Waterman, told the ZBA that “a number of these” proposed changes came from him. According to his biography on the Safer USA website, Lombardo serves “on the Fox Valley Friends of the NRA committee, an endowment life member of the NRA, Life member of the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and active with the Will County Chapter of the ISRA.”
At the Nov. 15 meeting, Hendrix said Lombardo wrote the policy, but Kellogg, County Board Chairman Scott Gryder, and board member Bob “H.D.” Davidson, who is the chair of the board’s PBZ Committee, said that was not true.
“He did not,” Kellogg and Davidson said.
“That’s not true,” Gryder said.
Gryder said the policy came from the PBZ Committee. Kellogg said the policy would help protect the citizens.
“Right now, we’ve got nothing,” Kellogg said.
Even board member John Purcell, who told the committee that he plans on voting against the changes, said the policy has more restrictions on outdoor ranges than the current rules.
“This has more restrictions than nothing at all; maybe not many, but more,” Purcell said.
However, a group of county residents who have objected to the changes believe that they loosen the current restrictions in place.
Mark Perle, a resident of Old Ridge Road in Plainfield, was one of several residents who attended the Nov. 15 committee meeting and have attended meetings throughout the process, objecting to the changes.
“There’s no law in this as I read it; it’s wide open,” he said.
Perle said Lombardo “indirectly represents the NRA and largely wrote this proposal.” He said Lombardo has warned the county that it’s “going to get sued if you don’t make these changes we’re demanding.”
“He wrote it entirely in favor of the gun community,” Perle said.
Perle said the change “guarantees [the county] is gonna get sued.”
“You’re gonna get sued because you’ve got no rules, no regulations in here, and the first time somebody comes to you to put in a gun range wherever in the county, you’re gonna have one set of rules for a gun range over here and another set of rules for a gun range over here, and they’re gonna argue that these rules are capricious and irresponsible, and they’re gonna win on it,” Perle said.