Tuesday's work session
The first item of business at the Butler County Commission meeting on Tuesday was a work session for the request of a revocation of a 2006 conditional use permit (CUP) for Richard Christian, owner of Lynbrooke Sporting Clays near Augusta. Butler County Director of Community Development David Alfaro explained the request to the board of commissioners.
"In November, we received a request from Dick Christian, who operates Lybrooke Sporting Clays –located 1419 SW 120th, Bloomington Township – for possible expansion of their operations,” Alfaro said. “The expansion would include a 100-yard small pistol and small rifle range as well as long rifle ranges from 200 upwards to 1,000 yards. When we started discussing this project, obviously there were some concerns raised by the adjoining land owners. And one of those was that the applicant had not complied with the conditions placed upon the property associated with the 2006 CUP when it was approved. Those conditions included the monitoring of the area – basically all the land surrounding the property – to determine where and how much shot was falling on the adjacent properties.
“When we started researching this as part of our staff report, it was determined that when we looked for the files we couldn't find anything that stated that any monitoring had been conducted. I then discussed this with the agent of the applicant, Mr. Dave Stewart, and at that point in time they were unable to provide us with any documentation as well. So, obviously, this led to some discussion concerning the validity of that 2006 CUP," Alfaro said.
Part of the CUP being referenced stated that the applicant (Lybrooke Sporting Clays) resolved to have the CUP revoked and terminated if the terms of the testing of and remediation of shot fall on adjoined property are not followed.
Essentially, Lynbrooke Sporting Clays was responsible for having a third party monitor shot fall for three large events. Then they would remedy any shot fall on adjacent property if any was found. Also, the reports from the monitoring were to be filed with the Butler County Board of Commissioners after being completed. In effect, the county commissioners were also expected to have some level of follow-up with Lynbrooke Sporting Clays.
"At that point in time, they were required to have at least three monitoring sessions when they had large events. They then were to provide staff, back in 2006, with copies of those monitorization reports. And we, in turn, would file those. After three events, if the monitoring showed there was no fall outside of the property lines, then it would not be required to continue to do the monitoring," Alfaro said.
If the 2006 CUP is revoked and terminated citing failure to follow monitoring and remediation agreements for shot fall, Lynbrooke Sporting Clays would revert back to their original CUP from 1990. That CUP had the Lynbrooke Sporting Clays property at 40 acres instead of the current 50 acres. There was no resolution to monitor and remedy any shot fall on nearby properties in the 1990 CUP. It is unclear whether the 2006 CUP resolution for shot fall monitoring and remediation applied only to the area around the 10 acre acquisition or the entire 50 acres. If Lynbrooke Sporting Clays reverted back to the 1990 CUP, monitoring and remediation of shot fall around the original 40 acres may then be required – especially if it is determined that the terms for monitoring and remediation of shot fall in the 2006 CUP were meant to cover the whole 50 acres. Yet, according to Butler County Counselor Terry Huelskamp, the 2006 CUP still won't automatically be considered null and void without action by the board of commissioners.
David Stewart with Gravity Works Architecture spoke for Dick and Nancy Christian on behalf of Lynbrooke Sporting Clays. According to Stewart, the current owners of Lynbrooke Sporting Clays – the Christians – have never had any shooting stations oriented to the west. They're all facing the east; it's highly unlikely that any shot would presently fall on an adjacent property to the west. Yet, when shot was found on west adjacent property in 2009, the Christians mitigated the lead shot that had fallen there.
"There has been mitigation work in the form of over-excavation and reseeding – which occurred in 2009. The previous owner and operator of Lynbrooke Sporting Clays authorized, and actually paid for, the over-excavation work on the property directly west of Lynbrooke owned by the Grahams. The current operators of Lynbrooke, the Christians, did pay for reseeding back to native grass mix and annual rye. That reseed is from May of 2009 .... So, as of '09, the lead had been mitigated – the lead from previous ownership and operation – very much much to the satisfaction of the adjacent property owner. And the grass was placed back in such a way that you can't tell that that mitigation work occurred today. I've been out there – I've seen it with my own eyes. It looks as native pasture as the rest of it does. Likewise, near the same time, it was acknowledged and appreciated that lead shot could – and likely is – falling to the east. At which point, and by way of background, all of the Sporting Clays stations are oriented generally to the east," Stewart said.
Stewart then provided a 2011 lease between Lynbrooke Sporting Clays and Jim and Mary Reeves, who at that time were the property owners to the east. The lease was in the form of a right of way easement for Lynbrooke Sporting Clays that acknowledged a 200-foot zone east of the Lynbrooke property where it was understood that shot might fall. If shot fell in that area, no damages would result – according to the lease. Stewart said he believes the lease is valid through the year 2022.
"On behalf of the Christians, I think they would comfortably acknowledge and ask that you appreciate their reasonable efforts over the years to acknowledge that shot has fallen on adjacent properties and that they have not only mitigated that shot to the west with cleanup efforts and discontinued shooting to the west – but they have also executed a longterm agreement, with easements, to the east to acknowledge the impact on that property and have come to a comfortable agreement with that property owner," Stewart said.
Chris Steincamp with Depew Gillen Rathbun & McInteer L.C. represented the Grahams, who are the property owners to the west of Lynbrooke Sporting Clays. He said the Grahams were concerned about the request for the 1,000-yard expansion that would include the use of high-powered rifles because their property is close to where the expanded area would be. Furthermore, Steincamp noted that the monitoring process as described in the 2006 CUP has never been executed – although some remediation has occurred by means of over-excavation and reseeding. He claimed that the lack of previous monitoring raises concern for the Grahams about an expansion since past operations weren't totally compliant even without an expansion. Steincamp also entertained the idea that, if the current CUP wasn't already followed, Lynbrooke operations could foster increased danger for neighbors – especially with the added use of rifles. He added that the Lynbrooke Sporting Clays property is clearly not big enough for shooting activities because shot had fallen outside of its bounds.
Before discussion of this item concluded, Lynbrooke Sporting Clays Owner and Operator Dick Christian also addressed the board.
"Nancy and I bought Lynbrooke in the beginning not understanding that shot even had crossed the fence. I've owned three businesses, ran them right [and] kind of semi-retired until the clays deal. And I ran my businesses up-front all the way through. The business of the shot I wasn't aware of until I was told about it by the Grahams, and I could not believe it happened. You know, you have rights and wrongs – and to have shot across on their side of the fence was a definite wrong by the previous owner. So, henceforth, I wanted to clean that shot up and did it .... And it wasn't like it was the length of the property or anything. It was one confined place there that I know of today," Christian said.
Christian said the previous owner of Lynbrooke Sporting Clays liked to shoot in locations where he would be shooting across the fence – which Christian was not aware of when he bought the property in 2006. Christian also mentioned that the course is longer than it was then, and he widened his footage to ensure that the shot was captured after finding out about the shot fall on the Grahams' property.
The item was tabled until next week's meeting. In the meantime, the board of commissioners will seek legal counsel from Huelskamp.
The second item the county commissioners addressed was to approve payment of the 2017 annual invoice from Tyler Technologies for public safety software maintenance. Tyler Technologies provides the criminal records software and dispatching software used by the county. This item was brought to the board of commissioners by Butler County Chief Information Officer Scott Stoskopf. The payment was approved.
Then Butler County GIS Director Pamela Dunham addressed the board of commissioners requesting approval of a Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) membership list and re-designation of a county commissioner to the LEPC Board. Dunham is the 2017 LEPC Chair. The request was approved, and County Commissioner Jeff Masterson was reappointed to the LEPC Board.