YORKVILLE – Future commercial shooting ranges open to the public in Kendall County now have new rules to follow.
The Kendall County Board voted, 8-0, to approve changes to the current listed special uses for A-1 agriculture zoning areas, which included more restricted hours than initially anticipated for commercial gun ranges, during their meeting Tuesday night at the Kendall County Office Building. County Board members Tony Giles and Elizabeth Flowers were absent from the meeting.
The originally proposed changes to the current listed special uses for A-1 agriculture zoning areas included adding brand-new allowed hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The amendment also added that not only is alcohol not allowed, but marijuana and other illicit drugs would not be allowed at the site; and it further specifies that proof of accident and liability insurance would be required before commencement of operations.
Priscilla Gruber of Yorkville said her neighborhood experienced frequent shooting from nearby ranges starting in 2016. She said some neighbors had bullets fly by houses and even one neighbor’s house was shot while they were not home.
Gruber said she and other neighbors got involved when an initial proposal presented in 2018 took away a few original provisions, including a 1,000-foot-long buffer between residences and ranges. She said what was passed Tuesday wasn’t perfect, since she wanted to see a 3,000-foot sound buffer zone recommended by the state.
“It’s a lot better than it was,” Gruber said.
John Purcell, county board member and Yorkville mayor-elect, moved to change the hours of operation for future commercial gun ranges to be between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Oct. 1 through March 31, and 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. April 1 through Sept. 30, which also passed with a vote of 8-0 from the County Board. He also included 12 night shoots a year.
Purcell said he proposed those additional changes because future ranges needed the restrictions. However, he said, residents might not be aware that the rules passed Tuesday don’t apply to current commercial ranges.
“This is only for any future ranges that come in,” Purcell said.
Zach Barnwell of Plano, who also is a member of the board of directors for the Barber Greene Hunting and Fishing Club in Oswego Township, said it’s important to grandfather existing ranges in with the new regulations because it would shut down all of the current ranges’ shooting sports. He said none of those clubs has property available to them where they could adhere to the 1,000-foot buffer zone and it would take out half of membership from each club.
Barnwell said it seemed pointless to him for surrounding businesses to be singled out on the matter.
“If you’re a homeowner looking to purchase property in Kendall County, it’s your obligation to do your homework on what’s around you,” Barnwell said.
The commercial shooting range text amendment approval comes after county residents voiced their concerns about hearing gunshots from the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office’s gun range. Sheriff’s office shooting ranges would not be subject to the commercial shooting range text amendment regulations, according to county officials.
Illinois State Police Capt. Dave Schneider said he came to the Tuesday meeting and spoke during public comment to clarify that Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird had reached out to Illinois State Police to see if the sheriff’s office could complete their training within state police shooting facilities. Schneider said more than 100 law enforcement agencies shoot there seven days a week and sometimes for 20 hours a day.
“We just cannot accommodate that at this time,” Schneider said.
Baird had said the sheriff’s office is looking at adjusting hours at the office’s current range and that the county’s State’s Attorney Eric Weis ruled the gun range has been operating legally since it was created in 1992, after Weis allegedly reviewed the matter in response to residents’ complaints. Weis declined comment on the matter, citing attorney-client privilege.