Woodstock shooting range plan abandoned

WOODSTOCK – Dominic DeBock wasn’t feeling much love from the neighbors of his proposed shooting range, so he pulled the plug on the project.

DeBock was trying to gain permits to build two gun ranges, a paintball area and a miniature golf course on Route 120 at Queen Anne Road. DeBock, who owns Marengo Gun and Coin, also planned to sell guns at the location.

The shooting ranges were hotly contested by neighbors who packed two county Zoning Board of Appeals public hearings. They decried the project’s potential noise, and raised concerns about safety and lead removal.

In an email to the Northwest Herald, DeBock explained his decision to withdraw the petition:

“Despite our proposed plans to follow all local, state and federal regulations regarding lead removal, noise levels and safety standards, it has become evident that the [residents] of Bull Valley and Woodstock are unwilling to allow this opportunity for job creation and substantial revenue for McHenry County to proceed.

“It is unfortunate that in this economy the 8 houses that are within a half mile of the firing line have decided to ignore video and sound data which clearly show the noise levels would be well below that of the noise generated by the traffic on Route 120.”

In his testimony before the zoning board, DeBock presented sound evidence in which he used a decibel meter to test noise the range could produce. Zoning board members derided the evidence as “weak.”

Board members said they couldn’t approve a project about which noise evidence was so unclear.

“It’s become clear that neither the zoning board or the county is going to go with it,” DeBock said.

Attorney Bill Caldwell was retained by Timothy and Nancy Downes, who live nearby on Fleming Road. Caldwell had been contacted by other groups looking to join efforts to block the sporting complex.

Other neighborhoods nearby include Victorian Country, The Fields, and the proposed Banford Oaks subdivision. Marian Central Catholic High School also is in the area.

“It was picking up steam against him,” Caldwell said. “That room wasn’t going to be big enough the next [public hearing].”

Frank Burg of Woodstock wasn’t as celebratory as he hoped he’d be and said he is fearful of what still could become of the 80-acre site.

“This is the right thing to do,” Burg said. “But it was wrong for the proposal to be put forth in the first place. It was very divisive for the community. It frightened the community, it frightened the people that live around the range about the noise, the lead and the traffic. It caused a terrible disturbance in the community, and I think that feeling is going to last.”

The 80-acre property once was operated as the now-defunct Deer Run Golf Center with a miniature golf course and a driving range. DeBock said just a miniature golf course or paintball range wouldn’t be “financially feasible” without a shooting range.

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