Gun club prepares for its future

Six months after the last public meeting and two years after flying bullets landed in a nearby neighborhood, injuring one person, the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club is ready to present its official proposal for shooting range renovations to township officials.
Becky Vargo
Oct 5, 2013

“The biggest update is that we’ve made an application for a special use permit,” said Steve Woiteshek, a member of the gun club's board.

Gun club officials had hoped the permit would be considered for approval at the Grand Haven Township Planning Commission meeting earlier this week. However, Township Manager Bill Cargo said he did not receive the site plan in time to prepare a report for the commissioners, thus the hearing would have to wait until the commission's next meeting, Oct. 21 — “assuming the site plan complies with zoning requirements,” Cargo said.

Read the site plan documents: Download the PDFs (Related Files) at the bottom of this story.

The club closed down its rifle and pistol ranges Sept. 29, 2011, after a construction worker was hit in the arm with a bullet while working in the driveway of a home in the Cutter Park subdivision, about a half-mile east of the gun club. Residents checked their houses after hearing about the incident, and found at least eight homes damaged by bullets, according to Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

An investigation determined that officers from the Grand Valley State University Department of Public Safety were conducting a training exercise at the gun club that morning and those bullets had gotten past berms at the range.

No criminal charges were filed.

Gun club officials said at the time this would never have happened if the officers were complying with range rules.

The club immediately and indefinitely suspended all police training activities at the ranges. The entire facility was shut down for a week.

The skeet and trap shooting areas were soon reopened. They are further from the subdivision and the guns have much shorter ranges, explained Mark Welch, president of the gun club board, at a meeting that took place shortly after the incident.

Since that time, gun club officials have been working on a plan to improve the ranges so that no bullets would ever fly out of the area. Work began almost immediately to increase the height of the berms.

The club formed committees to research other facilities and come up with a plan that Woiteshek said would make the local gun club the gold standard of shooting ranges in the United States.

In early June, gun club representatives met with Grand Haven Township officials, and then had separate meetings with residents of Cutter Park and club members.

Models of a proposed baffle system were demonstrated, but Jeremey Wilder — a Cutter Park resident and president of its homeowner association — asked for reassurances that the improvements were going to be done right.

Wilder said earlier this week that he had received no communications from the gun club since the June meeting.

“They said they would invite us to see any proposal before it was submitted to the township, but that has not occurred,” he said. “They also did not release any documents that showed the results of the NRA inspection of their outdoor range.”

Wilder said the gun club had a summary of what they called the "important points" that they shared verbally, but they didn’t have a copy of that for the subdivision residents.

“Our position remains unchanged,” he said. “Any plans to open an outdoor range needs to be designed by professional range designers to make sure that residents of Cutter Park and surrounding neighborhoods will not be in any danger of injury or damage to property from bullets leaving the (gun club) property.”

Woiteshek said there is too much at risk not to do things correctly.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

wmugrad

What about all the homeowners that found bullets in their siding, roofs and fields from well before the GVSU incident? This was not a one time deal, it has been reoccurring unbeknownst to these residents for quite some time, thankfully no one was killed. I'm tired of hearing the gun club place the blame all on GVSU and the news not saying anything about the prior incidents. Not once have they owned up to their mistakes nor apologized to any of those homeowners with bullets in houses dating back 6-12 months prior to the GVSU incident. This isn't just about the safety of the people who live in the neighborhood, it's about the safety of everyone who visits, drives thru, walks or works in it. No I'm not against guns, just against bullets crossing a ranges property line into a residential neighborhood.

pdk67

It's obvious that you have not been following this story. The club did take responsibility for the incidences and have apologized . They have worked closely with law officials. They have had Multiple investigations by several agencies and brought in engineers to construct much safer barriers. Before you speak please check the accuracy of you statements.

Eyebolt

pdk67, you appear to not be following the story. The GVSU Police were shooting 9mm rounds the day that a man and several homes were hit. When residents started to inspect previously standing holes in their siding and checking their roofs, some of the owners found .45 caliber rounds. These were verified and documented by the Ottawa County Sheriff and can be found in the police report. This is the point that wmugrad appears to be making...this wasn't a one time event despite what NORGC states in public.

MR. WILLIAMS

There has been hunting going on in the areas surrounding the Gun Club and beyond for well over 75 years as well as residents living in homes with guns and target practicing in the woods which could very easily be the result of finding bullets around and in house structures. Just because the Rod & Gun Club is there doesn't automatically mean that they are responsible for all the bullets found. In the area I live in I have found bullets in my driveway, sand blows, and outdoor sheds by houses and the only way they got there is from hunters and or target practice.

I find it interesting that the Grand Valley State University Department of Public Safety were conducting a training exercise when bullets had gotten past the berms. I have to wonder what kind of "training exercise" they were conducting to cause "wild shots" to go beyond the shooting area. I have used that outdoor range many times over the last couple of decades and the berms and large hills being used as a backstop are 2-4 times higher than any outdoor range I've been to in Michigan as well as out-of state. My point being, that a person would have to be really out of control of their gun to have their shot go beyond the berms and hills. I really have to question the safety measures taken by the GVSU Department of Public Safety, which from my understanding get the same training as the Police and Sheriffs Departments and exactly what kind of "training exercises" they are performing on the range. This range is set up for "basic target shooting" and "sighting in long arms." It is not set up for "Training Exercises" that involve movements that take shooters beyond the standard "shooting lines" meaning that if the shooters are doing zig-zag and other movements that require shooters to fire their weapons in different directions than what the gun range is set up for, then there could be shots fired in directions other than at the berms and hills, which is most likely what took place that day which would explain how a bullet ended up in that mans arm and others found around the homes.

It's good that the North Ottawa Rod & Gun Club is giving time and attention to make the out door shooting range the safest and best it can be.

fixitman

I have shot at this range alot. It is very safe and ran well. I live a few miles away from the range. I hear the shots but I understand the noise means people are shooting at the range and not out in the woods were people like to walk their kids and dogs. If a person is target practing in the wood very good chance some one is going to get hurt or killed. So by the rich rude people complaining about the noise to go away. The range has been here for a very long time and has provided a safe place to shoot. I drove by the range on Friday and you look at the amout of trees and open land then more trees you wonder how a bullet ( a bullet ) could have reached a house let alone the many that they are saying has hit the houses. I would have to think the bullets are from people who are to cheap to pay 15.00 dollars to shoot safety and are shooting out in the woods. My neibors father-in-law is happy the range is shutdown because he didnt like the noise. I told him if you dont like it move back to Detroit where you came from it was his choice to live there should have checked the area a little better before you sign on the line to buy. The range was there before the built the homes there. It is the same as a person moves out from the city next to a farm and expect the farmer to shutdown his dairy farm and move because his cows smell. People need to get off their high horse and deal with life. It is not all about them because they think because they are rich that they can just push people around. Most important Township Manager Bill Cargo should grow a set and instead of caving into to the RICH SNOBS he should tell the people of the subdivision if you dont like the noise go away and move back into the SNOB Town of Grand Haven. But instead he will bend down to the rich instead what is right and safe. It had to have been unsafe shooters in the woods shooting or hunting not from the range. So instead I have to travel out of town to Zeeland or to Twin Lakes to safety shoot my gun. Prime example the shoot into a home in Olive Twp a house was hit because of unsafe target pratice if they would have had a range open like North Ottawa gun range that would have happen. If you look at the pictures of the homes that were hit the shoots were straight on shots not a downward shot. Because if the were a downward shot it would have torn the siding downward not a semi round hole. And the only way you would have gotten a bullet to travel the far you would have had to shoot up into the air above the berm which now puts the angle of the bullet above the top of any houses in the subdivision and the the bullet would have tumbled downward into the siding. Nobody looked at that point of view they just wanted to jump right on north ottawa gun gun club. They want the club shutdown so bad they can taste it.

Eyebolt

"Gun club officials said at the time this would never have happened if the officers were complying with range rules."

-The GVSU officers were shooting 9mm rounds that day. Several of the rounds pulled out of homes were .45 caliber. Apparently more people than the GVSU officers didn't comply with range rules over the years.

fixitman - you obviously have no grasp on the situation. Cutter Park residents are not complaining about noise, it's a matter of safety. Regardless if the range "was there first", they have the legal obligation to keep their activities on the bounds of their property. This not only includes not hitting people or homes in Cutter Park but not allowing any rounds to even cross the property line into any adjacent property. This is an obligation that they have failed at in the past.

To go with your metaphor...if someone moves in next to a farm they can't complain about the smell. However, if one of the farmer's animals break out through the fence and eats the neighbors flowers and kicks their kid, then the farmer is responsible.

LessThanAmused

"To go with your metaphor...if someone moves in next to a farm they can't complain about the smell. However, if one of the farmer's animals break out through the fence and eats the neighbors flowers and kicks their kid, then the farmer is responsible".

I love your metaphor! I'm saving it for future use. Perfect, even the most dense, arrogant person should be able to grasp it with a little effort.

Barry Soetoro

"Even the most dense, arrogant person should be able to grasp it with a little effort." Sorry to say but someone will be along shortly to disprove this.

LessThanAmused

HA! You're probably right, but I guess I'm just eternally optomistic.

Wolverine49457

What about the Genius it took to grant building and development permits downrange of a gun range?
If this individual is still employed they should be fired, they must have figured they would kick the can down the road but happily accept the permits and fees from the developer at the time.
The range was there well before there were houses there built to the East and can you guess why that land was available? IT’S DOWN RANGE OF A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE SHOOT GUNS!

Wingmaster

Good point. Why do we have zoning, building inspectors that are supposed to make decisions on such things and not be held to some kind of accountability when situations arise such as we have here.

That said, they still should not be held responsible for someone's future reckless behavior.

Wolverine49457

The range has rules to keep everyone safe while maintaining a fun atmosphere among those of a kindred spirit and it works if the shooter is responsible enough to use a firearm, it was not the case in this case and maybe others (so it seems). If a projectile went over the berm and land (impact) downrange somewhere unknown the rules have been violated. Just like the creation of speed bumps to slow irresponsible people the range may end up installing devices that will not allow a person to fire high enough to go over the berm to make the range childish proof. With life in general should we fail to be responsible for our behavior someone else has may step in on our behalf, socialists love this as do progressives however it’s a slippery slope; when we give up responsibility we surrender equal or greater amounts of authority and liberty, we become like babies and prisoners...someone else deciding what and where we are allowed to do the most basic things...the Obama administration thrives on cherry picking irresponsible acts of the few in order to control the many; if there is money or votes in it for the government it will change for certain!

ghresident

Cant wait for to open back up! Got a new Kimber and AR that needs some rounds through them.

Willoughby1

I'm glad that improvements are being proposed by the gun club. I have family in Cutter Park and they are not snobs. They have little kids that play outside and the parents want to keep them safe. Isn't that one of the main reasons many people choose to raise a family in Grand Haven? There isn't much to do - but your kids will be safe and go to good schools. I have to say I am shocked to hear that the bullet that hit the worker wasn't traced back to a specific GVSU officer's gun and that he or she wasn't charged with a crime. That is outrageous.

SCH39339

Yes and another term often read with recent shooting incidents, juvenile crimes, car accidents etc is accountability. We've read of the state trooper who left his gun behind in the toilet and are told police internal affairs will take appropriately disciplinary actions. The trooper will be held accountable. It would reassuring to the public/citizens to have heard the bullet was surely traceable and the GVSU police had done more accountable actions than the State of Michigan Police?

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