The Spokane Gun Club is moving forward with plans for a new clubhouse and shooting range on the West Plains after a lawsuit that threatened the organization’s plans was dismissed in Spokane Superior Court.
As previously reported by the Journal, the Spokane Gun Club bought more than 450 acres of property near the northwest corner of Brooks Road and Thorpe Road, west of Fairchild Air Force Base, in late September for $920,000 from Oregon-based Western Pacific Timber LLC.
About two weeks before the sale closed, seven petitioners—all of whom are members of the Whitehead family—filed a motion against Spokane County, the Spokane Gun Club, and Western Pacific Timber to stop the shooting range development.
On Friday, Jan. 17, Judge Tony Hazel of Spokane Superior Court heard and subsequently dismissed the case.
The Spokane Gun Club now plans to seek approval for a conditional-use permit from the county, and a public hearing is set for Feb. 5, Spokane Gun Club officer Dave McCann says.
Elizabeth Tellessen, of Winston & Cashatt Lawyers PS, who represented the petitioners in the case, says her clients intend to voice their opposition to the proposed gun range during the hearing.
“My clients are rural property owners. Some of them live out there; some of them intend to retire out there and are not supportive of the prospect of having a gun club next door,” Tellessen says.
McCann says the organization already has made some concessions to nearby property owners by moving some shooting areas farther away from occupied homes.
“We’re well aware that we’re going to be the new guys in town and that the folks who live around that parcel have lived there for years and years without any kind of business or any additional traffic or activity,” McCann says. “We’d like them to feel that we’re a good neighbor, and we’re doing what we can to make it minimally invasive.”
The dismissed complaint alleged that Spokane County failed to secure signatures in support of changing the area’s designation from no-shooting to shooting allowed.
The petitioners contend that support from at least 50% of property owners residing within the area surrounding the gun club’s future home is required under county code.
The complaint further claimed that the county erroneously interpreted the code by construing that the area from which signatures must be gathered included only the parcel being removed from the no-shooting zone.
Tellessen contends the language of the code put the responsibility for obtaining signatures on the Gun Club and Western Pacific Timber.
The court ruled, however, that the signatures were not necessary, Tellessen says.
“The entire process is really a legislative process, and the county isn’t compelled to follow that particular process at any given juncture,” Tellessen says. “The process that’s set out in the county code is essentially an optional process.”
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