PERU TOWNSHIP — A half dozen citizens attended the May 16 Morrow County Commissioners meeting to ask for their help in a local concern about the inclusion of 50-caliber weapons at Cardinal Shooting Center near Marengo.
County Road 218 resident Diane Farahay spoke for the group about safety concerns with the use of these high caliber guns. She said this new addition of 50-caliber guns was announced at the May 10 Peru Township Trustee meeting.
Farahay said her home and several others are within range of a stray bullet. Campers at Heartland Camp Grounds will be next door to this range and traffic on CR 218 could be at risk of an accidental shooting.
“The best of men and the best of machines sometimes make mistakes, and the cost of such a mistake is far too high,” said Farahay.
Peru Township resident Phil Devol said that another concern is that the firing of these guns allows an upward lurching that can lead to bullets going astray. He said that two churches are in direct line of this gun range.
Along with concerns about having a safe barrier, Farahay said that the noise would increase exponentially with 50-caliber guns.
The group was requesting that commissioners meet with Jack Fishburn on their behalf concerning the issues of safety and noise. They presented several questions for the commissioners to ask Fishburn.
Who ultimately has responsibility and liability for the safety of residents? If Fishburn does, is he aware of the dire loss of fortune he is risking in the case of an accident?
Will the crucial safety barrier be designed by an engineer aware of its requirements? The earth barrier is the only thing between the residents and the extremely lethal bullets.
Will ODNR sign off on the barrier and do timely inspections of it as it erodes?
What abatements is Fishburn planning for the extreme noise that will occur for a large group of residents and campers?
How often will these weapons be accommodated at the range? Will there be scheduled times for their use, or will there be unscheduled drop-ins?
Will these weapons be a part of large tournaments? The shotgun shooters will be at serious risk from the 50-caliber range if both ranges shoot at the same time.
Devol added that this extreme increase in noise coupled with possible danger will be likely to affect and lower property values.
“What is the role of commissioners in leadership for the county economy, property values and safety?” asked Devol as he requested that the commissioners make their voice heard in resolving these concerns.
Commissioner Tom Whiston replied that it is out of the commissioners and county scope to act on this. He said that township trustees would have jurisdiction to make an ordinance. He noted that Peru was one of the townships that did not have zoning.
“Zoning and ordinances can protect against noise and nuisance,” Whiston said, using the example of the police shooting range in Mount Gilead that was moved from the north side of town to the country south of town due to noise and other concerns.
Commissioner Burgess Castle said he supported the efforts of Farahay and the Peru Township residents, even if there wasn’t anything he or the commissioners could do directly for them.
Castle encouraged the Peru Township Trustee Art Close, who was present, to take leadership along with the other trustees in working on the issue. Castle noted that people may be against zoning until something affects them personally or directly like this does. Then they want something done.
Farahay said they were disappointed that commissioners weren’t willing to do more. She said she and her husband already asked Fishburn two or three years ago to have some abatement for the shotgun noise with some kind of noise barrier. He said he would consider it, but so far nothing has been done.
“The commissioners made it clear they understood our concern, but said it was for us to do the work and speak with Mr. Fishburn as well as working on zoning or an ordinance,” Farahay said.