Zoning dispute heads to court

Zoning dispute heads to court

November 9th, 2009 by Matt Wilson in News

Though Hamilton County commissioners asked the county's Board of Zoning Appeals to reconsider issuing a permit for a Sale Creek shooting range, the matter first must go to another venue: a courtroom.

The range's owner, former Red Bank Police Chief Ronnie Dodd, filed a lawsuit Oct. 9 in Chancery Court challenging the zoning appeals board's authority to take back a permit it issued in April 2008.

"(Mr. Dodd) will be irreparably harmed by having to appear before the tribunal ... when it is not acting on its own initiative but upon instructions from the Hamilton County Commission to do an act which it has no authority to do," the lawsuit states.

No hearing has yet been set.

In July, commissioners asked the zoning board to take up the permit issue after hearing complaints from neighbors, who said they have found shrapnel in their yards.

Mr. Dodd repeatedly has asserted that no shrapnel from his range has gone outside his property.

The commission's resolution stated that "the discrepancy between what was presented to the (Zoning Board of Appeals) and what is in fact the actual operation of (the range) is so varied that further consideration needs to be made by the board."

Commissioner Fred Skillern, whose district includes the range, said the matter now is up to the court.

At a zoning appeals board meeting last month, Assistant County Attorney David Norton, who serves as attorney for the board, advised members to take no action on the permit because of Mr. Dodd's lawsuit. Mr. Norton said he did not want to speculate on whether the board would take it up again.

Carl Lindkvist, one of the neighbors, said Mr. Dodd's lawsuit was "a shock."

"We had no idea there was a lawsuit filed," he said.

Mr. Lindkvist said he and other neighbors are pooling their money to hire an attorney to get Mr. Dodd's lawsuit dropped. He said he has pawned a rifle to get some money.

WHAT'S NEXT

A Hamilton County judge will decide whether the county Zoning Board of Appeals has the authority to reconsider a permit that allows Ronnie Dodd to operate a shooting range in Sale Creek.