The Peninsula Gun Club is seeking a zoning change at their two 20-acre parcels on Juddville Road to allow for potential relocation and expansion of the shooting range. After the Gibraltar Plan Commission did not recommend supporting the change, the town board voted unanimously to recommend the zoning change with Brian Merkel absent.
The 60-year-old gun club was grandfathered into its current Heartland-5 zoning at its original 20-acre parcel. When it purchased the adjacent 20-acre parcel under the same 12 years ago, zoning limited any kind of expansion at the property.
“The gun club predates zoning, so it can continue to operate as is,” explained Rick Brauer, county zoning administrator. The gun club can alter the 20-acre parcel it currently uses by modifying its conditional use permit. But the club cannot do anything to the adjacent 20-acre parcel since it is a separate property that, under zoning, does not allow for a gun club.
“That 20-acre parcel is a separate property and you’re not allowed to expand a nonconforming use onto another property,” said Brauer. “They can’t do anything on the adjoining property.”
The current zoning, Heartland-5, does not allow gun clubs in any way. Countyside-5 zoning, which the gun club is seeking, allows gun clubs under a conditional use permit. So even if the zoning change happens, the club will still need a conditional use permit to expand or change the property.
But talk of expansion may be a bit premature, according to Tony Bryzek, current treasurer and former president of the Peninsula Gun Club.
“We have no plans for the other 20 acres,” said Bryzek. “We just have plans that someday we might want to use it.”
Under its current status, the gun club isn’t allowed to even put picnic tables on the undeveloped 20-acres. Bryzek said the club chose to seek the zoning change now should they want to do something with the property in the future. One long-term goal he mentioned was relocating the shooting range to the center of the entire 40-acre parcel since it currently sits on the east property line.
“If we had that other 20 acres accessible and we could raise the money we might move that skeet range over so we would have a buffer [to the east],” said Bryzek. “It would enable us to spread out any shooting.”
Adjacent property owners spoke up at the plan commission’s public hearing on the topic, citing safety and spot zoning as the primary concerns.
In the unapproved minutes from that hearing, Jim Smith claimed that rezoning was not compatible with surrounding land uses and the change would adversely affect the neighbors. He added that Countryside-5 zoning would allow other undesirable uses should the property ever leave the gun club’s hands.
Brauer told Gibraltar officials that the change would not constitute spot zoning adding that, despite being surrounded by Heartland-5 zoning, the land directly southeast of the gun club is zoned as Countryside-5.
Chris Zimmerman, owner of the adjacent property west of the gun club, cited safety concerns, claiming that the property is mismanaged with little supervision.
The zoning change will go before the Resource Planning Committee on Jan. 5 at 2pm in the Chambers Room at the Door County Government Center.