Another gun range controversy in Manatee County

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - Another gun and shooting range is being proposed in Eastern Manatee County. The Ancient Oak Gun Club was recently approved by the Manatee County commission; now the Rocky Creek Ranch in Myakka is drawing criticism.

Officials from the ranch went before county commissioners for several code enforcement violations. "The only reason this was brought to your attention was because of the bullets flying over my clients head," said Attorney Kevin Hennessy. Hennessy is referring to the Rocky Creek Ranch, a facility some claim is an outdoor shooting range.

"My clients are in fear, significantly in fear. They are not able to use their property. Being in the northern quarter of their property makes them feel like they're in a war zone," said Hennessy who represents the group opposing the gun range.

Wednesday, Rocky Creek Ranch officials were in front of Manatee County Commissioners for a code enforcement violations. They were cited for building and using several structures on the property for un-permitted purposes.

"The hearing today was being limited to operation of the...essentially the lodging and food service. It's been divorced from the operation of the gun ranges," added Hennessy.

And, Hennessy says the fact that commissioners would not hear any evidence on the gun range is disheartening. "What's going on here is the government is not protecting the people. They are hiding the ball here. They are not addressing issue, that is people's lives are in danger here."

Although they wouldn't speak on camera people from Rocky Creek Ranch say they are in the process of obtaining the necessary permits for the buildings. They also added that currently there's no gun range resort on their land and if one is constructed it will have the proper permits. But, those opposing the range disagree.

"They are constantly hearing the unnerving sound of numerous automatic and semi-automatic weapons going off for hours," said Hennessy.

Commissioner did table a vote on the code violations for building construction and use. They are expected to revisit the issue at their next commission meeting on May 8th.