Benton County closes part of St. Cloud-area gun range

St. Cloud, Minn. – Whether it’s an “attack” on gun ranges, or a
matter of not complying with county zoning rules and safety issues,
a portion of a prominent gun club in Benton County has been at
least temporarily closed, as legal matters continue to be sorted
out.

A spokesperson from the Del-Tone/Luth Gun Range, located on the
edge of St. Cloud, said recently that part of the gun range remains
open; handgun shooting at the club at least for now has been shut
down.

Owner Randy Luth, who was unavailable for comment prior to Outdoor
News’ press time, posted a statement on the club’s web site
stating, in part: “As many of you know, shooting range and firearms
owners face ongoing battles regarding the exercise of our
constitutional rights. Del-Tone/Luth Gun Club recently found itself
in the middle of one of these battles.”

County officials and Luth acknowledge litigation is on hold for
now.

“The lawsuit is on the back burner to see if we can work out the
issue; however, at this time we must cease shooting handguns …,”
Luth said on the club’s web site.

A county lawsuit against Luth says what began with violations of a
15-year-old “conditional use permit” became an issue of club
location, and later safety issues arose regarding Del-Tone.

Now, a series of meetings are slated, as the club seeks an updated
permit, and safety issues are addressed.

Records obtained from the Sherburne County Attorney’s Office, from
assistant county attorney Tim Sime, document the timeline like
this:

Del-Tone was issued a conditional use permit by the county in 1994,
to the previous club owner; although “general rural” zoning did not
allow a gun range as a permitted, conditional or interim use, it
was granted the CUP for uses that were “pre-existing
non-agricultural activities.”

Since 1994, the court records say, “agricultural and residential
uses surrounding the Del-Tone property have increased. Additional
homes have been built to the east of the Del-Tone property
(Sherburne County), and to the north of the property (Benton
County).”

Luth purchased the property in 2002.

Sherburne County approved a new conditional use permit in 2002, but
the permit “did not alter or expand the conditions or limitations
of the 1994 CUP to permit the use o additional weapons by the
public, such as handguns and ‘rapid-fire’ weapons …”

According to the court records, in 2005 and 2006 the Benton County
Sheriff’s Office received complaints regarding bullets hitting a
residence to the north of Del-Tone property, in Benton County,
during which time, the records say, “the county discovered that
handguns and rapid-fire weapons were being used at the gun range on
Del-Tone property.” In 2006, they say, Luth applied to amend the
CUP to include handgun use on the rifle range. The application
later was withdrawn.

A similar report of bullets striking buildings north of Del-Tone
was received earlier this year, and a Benton County investigation
resulted in the finding of 9mm handgun bullet in the siding of a
building.

In June, the Sherburne County Zoning Office sent a notice to Luth,
stateing the CUP was being violated and the handgun use immediately
cease.

“In the meantime,” Luth’s web posting states, “we continue to lose
income from the loss of (conceal and carry) classes, the loss of
Cowboy Action Shooting, the loss of daily handgun shooters, the
lose of law enforcement shooters who need to remain proficient, the
loss of ‘three-gun’ events, etc.”

There’s also disagreement on the property that’s covered in the
conditional use permit for the club.

According to the web post: “As we were preparing to address the
handgun issue, on July 21 we were notified by the zoning department
that the rifle range is not technically located on the proper plat
that the 1994 conditional use permit was applied for. Obviously,
the previous owners built the rifle/gun ranges on the of the fence
line that separated the family’s property. However, over the years
the legal description does not match the fence line.”

Regarding the property disagreement, Luth planned to meet with
Board of Adjustment officials Aug. 16.

A hearing also was slated for Aug. 16 before the Haven Township
Board.

Further, on Aug. 19, club representatives will meet with members of
the Sherburne County Planning Commission.

Luth has urged gun club supporters to attend the meetings.

“I appreciate all the support and patience from our friends,
members, and customers, and you can rest assured that we will fight
this case diligently,” Luth’s web post says. “It is our intention
and always has been to provide a safe range as well as a
responsible range. The last thing we want, or any of our shooters
want, is a round to leave the range or to allow irresponsible
practices or policies.”

Categories: Hunting News

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