Residents opposing a plan to build a seasonal skeet shooting range at a private country club near Hinsdale say the proposal would cause noise, pollution and other problems.
More than 100 neighbors attended a Thursday night public hearing in Wheaton to urge DuPage County officials to reject Ruth Lake Country Club's request for a conditional use permit for a gun club on its golf course. The country club is seeking the permit so it could offer skeet shooting for its members during the winter.
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"This gunshot range ... is going to destroy a way of life for us," said Ron Hanson, who lives in a subdivision near the country club. "It's going to impact how we use our homes, our yards, our recreational areas.
"People are very upset," he added. "They are very concerned about this."
Thursday's hearing was hosted by the county's zoning board of appeals, which eventually will recommend whether the conditional use permit should be granted.
Ruth Lake Country Club, which was founded in 1922, is located on 140 acres along South Madison Street. It has a clubhouse, golf course and tennis and aquatics complexes.
Phil Luetkehans, the attorney representing the country club, says the proposed skeet shooting range is an amenity the club would like to offer its members. Several other country clubs in DuPage already offer skeet shooting.
During his presentation to the zoning board, Luetkehans said the range would be used between Nov. 1 and March 31 during the day on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. It wouldn't be open to the public.
The proposed skeet shooting area would be located west of the clubhouse and parking lot. While the range would have seven spots where participants can shoot, it would be used by one shooter at a time.
Luetkehans said alcohol wouldn't be allowed on the range. And anyone who has consumed alcohol wouldn't be allowed to shoot, he added.
A representative for the country club explained that there wouldn't be any waterways or wetlands within the "shot fall zone." That didn't stop several residents from voicing fears about shotgun pellets causing lead pollution.
Noise is another major concern for the neighbors.
"We oppose this on the basis of the noise nuisance that it would create," said Patrick Cahill, whose property is on Ruth Lake across from the country club. "That's our main objection."
The fact that skeet shooting would happen during the winter doesn't change anything, he said. "We ice skate on that lake all winter long," Cahill said. "Our kids and grandkids are going to be out there."
Resident Sue Berglund agreed that the noise would be too disruptive.
"I have grandchildren," she said. "We have many neighbors who have young children. When we are out building snowmen, how we do explain the gunshots?"
Because of the concerns about noise, Luetkehans said the county club is going to hire an expert to do a noise study. The findings of that study will be presented when the public hearing resumes next month.