Residents frustrated with gun range in peaceful Howell neighborhood

Man builds gun range in Howell neighborhood

HOWELL, Mich. – There's a battle brewing in one Metro Detroit community, and it's all over the gunfire residents have to listen to.

A homeowner in the Forest Ridge neighborhood in Howell decided to build an outdoor gun range in his backyard, and that has his neighbors worried for their safety and irritated over the noise.

Local 4 Defender Karen Drew went to Howell to investigate.

"We picked this area because it was a very nice community," Andy Prokopy said. "It was very good for raising kids."

But the family got a surprise when they heard gunfire echo through the neighborhood as a little boy rode his bike.

"You're not in a war zone, but that is what it sounds like," Debbie Kelm said.

In another instance, Larry Gulick said, the children were playing in the backyard when shooting started, so the children had to be moved to the front yard.

"I would hate to see a stray round towards my house or my neighbor's house," Gulick said.

"I have a sandbox right here, where small children play," Deb Gulick said. "I don't want semi-automatic bullets coming near my children."

Larry Gulick is a U.S. Marine and said he's not against guns.

"I believe people have a right to do what they want on their land, but at some point, it can't impede other people from doing what they want on their land, too," he said.

"I'm a hunter," Nick McCalla said. "I'm all for the Second Amendment. I'm for that, but when you're shooting assault rifles for six, eight hours a day, and it's loud, it's waking kids up from naps, kids are not playing outside because of that, that's an issue."

Residents have been calling the Livingston County Sheriff's Department to complain about the noise and the possible danger.

"We actually inspected the area and found it to be safe, and the backstop for the type of target shooting he's doing, in fact, he's actually shooting in the same direction of his own residence, and not of neighboring community," Lt. Eric Sandborn said.

Sandborn said the noise complaint is governed by the township ordinances. Residents said they showed up recently at a township meeting to get answers.

"He does have the right to shoot," officials said at the meeting. "He is on his own property. He is in the AR (Agricultural Residential) District. The ordinance lists that as one of his rights."

"While I understand this place is zoned for that, maybe it's time for the township to look at the expansion in the township and wonder if the zoning is correct," Gulick said.

What about the noise?

"The ordinance sets up 70 decibels at the property line," Oceola Township Supervisor William Bamber said. "He claims he's not doing that."

The residents claim it's more than that.

The township said it can't predict when the gunfire will happen, and they don't have the proper equipment to perform tests, so until the township takes some action, the neighborhood will have to deal with the noise.

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