Mr Wynne followed up his initial response (see below) with a letter to the BCC:
My letter to the Board of County Commissioners. I intend on following this letter with multiple blogs and printed media stories until the Board concedes the need for an administrative action related to this issue or forces legal action. Feel free to copy my sentiments or echo them in your own emails to the county at Commissioners@scgov.net
I was disappointed in today’s ruling in favor of the variance request formulated and approved by the this Board. I cannot, however, say that I am surprised. This process appeared, in structure, to be as incestuous as it was represented at today’s hearing. There is no doubt that this board intended on approving this measure, without delay and regardless of sound, albeit brief, testimony as to why it should be further investigated prior to approval.
Regardless of Mrs. Robinson’s efforts to dismiss my testimony as an “opportunity to make changes at the last minute” my sole effort was to plead with the Board to hold themselves to a higher standard prior to the execution of this variance approval. It seems apparent that this board was more concerned with rushing this issue through than with getting this right. I have no doubts that had this been a private developer’s request, you would have required an actual study on the potential effects to the site, the potential for stormwater contamination, the potential for costly mitigation should the site no longer operate as a range, the potential for catastrophic and debilitating ground water contamination to the rural residents nearby, as well as the right to enjoy a peaceful and quiet Sunday afternoon on the back porch of our “rural” homes.
You required nothing. There were no scientific studies. There were no considerations given to neighbors. There are no plans that are laid out intelligently based on thoughtful feedback. It is not an exaggeration to say that it would it would require more information for someone to be granted a variance for a tool shed than you required and/or provided in this matter. This is an epic failure on the part of this Board.
It was apparent that you had already justified this expansion with the fact that “there is already shooting in the area.” This is flawed logic and I would invite you into a very public discussion regarding the use of this concept in other public matters. Let’s use parking for this example. Siesta Village has a very real problem with parking. You most certainly would not allow a very significant expansion of public space without stopping to reconsider new parking and traffic impacts. You would require a study and a plan. Why not in this case? Parking is a heavily contested issue in the area, but I would like to think it is of a lower priority than your concern for the health and welfare of the community and its aquifer. The fact that you have allowed a facility to be built and operate under certain terms should not relieve you of the duty of holding newer facilities to a higher standard. This concept can be evidenced in the way the State handles building codes. It is always improving. That is my point. The fact that the existing range operates without having been properly conceived does not give this Board license to approve another that is not conceived at all.
The risks are real. Lead contamination and risks associated with chronic loud noises are inherent with gun ranges. There are dozens of “Erin Brokovitch” style litigation cases on line. Many of them against negligent county administrators. Despite Mr. Black’s erroneous testimony to the contrary, shotguns are among the loudest of all small arms. That is evidenced in the Attachment C Acoustic Report that I submitted to the clerk and will again attach to this mailing. The primary factor, aside from the actual sound wave the gun produces, in deterring the heard sound at a distance is the direction of fire. In other words, the direction they are firing is the loudest. 180 degrees from the direction of fire is the quietest. You would know this had you required ANY amount of diligence be performed prior to this variance being approved. Also contrary to Mr. Black’s testimony, this new range will be much closer to my home and the homes of my neighbors. This is a fact that can be easily proved using Google Earth or would be evidenced in any basic diligence report.
I was pleased to hear from your lessee that they follow Best management Practices. I knew many of the guys from the Skeet club and they are certainly, "good old boys.” I mean that sincerely. Still, not one of them is qualified to ensure the safety of my family as it relates to lead. I was dismayed to hear that there is minimal to no oversight from the County with regards to ensuring Best Practices are being complied with. Every building inspector in Sarasota County knows I build a fine home, and yet they still inspect my homes each an every time. I expect the same oversight on this matter. Certainly the risks are greater.
As I stated today, my effort is not to thwart this range’s approval. My issues are not with Sarasota Trap and Skeet. My issues lie with the less than honest information portrayed to my neighbors by the Petitioner (YOU) as related to who was requesting the variance, where this was occurring, and how it would be managed. I take special exception the absolute fact that no information regarding design standards, safety practice, ongoing monitoring and sound mitigation was provided by the Petitioner (YOU) or required by the deciding entity (YOU). This is a clear conflict and the negligence resulting from the lack of oversight of these issues puts my family at risk. This is unacceptable. Rest assured, you will be in for a very public battle if you do not formulate an administrative requirement outlining a real standard for design, performance, conduct and monitoring related to this project, PRIOR to touching dirt.
I want to believe this is a matter of this Board simply not knowing what is does not know. Now you know.
I look forward to your comprehensive proposal.
Here is another fine example for what a real gun range proposal looks like:
Mr. Wynne's initial response (2.10.2015) to the Board of Sarasota Commissioners after they approved the clearing of acres of Pinelands Reserve for the purpose of installing a new shooting range:
As many of you may know, I spoke out against a variance, proposed by and ultimately approved by, the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners. The process was an apparently incestuous one. The land impacts are severe and the legality of the use of the land for the intended purpose is very much in question. The intended use is to expand a shotgunning facility along side Knight's Trail Park and into the Pinelands Reserve, an area designated for environmental management practice.
My efforts were to ask the Board to hold off on a ruling until they provided the community and neighboring residents with detailed information regarding how they intended on managing the use to minimize the absolute risk of lead, arsenic and heavy metal poisoning into our water supply and estuaries (by way of Shakett Creek) as well to study the noise impacts on the community and design the facility in a way that would minimize adjacent disturbance. Currently, the County has no watchdog procedures in place to ensure that the club is actually performing Best Management Practice as required in their lease. They seem like great guys. That is good enough for this Board, I suppose.
As could be expected, my testimony was dismissed by Commissioner Christine Robinson as that of a scorned new neighbor wishing to take a last effort at disrupting the process. Mr. Paul Caragiulo did offer a small consolation prize in the form of a water well for contaminant testing to be added to the stipulations but Mrs. Robinson quickly shot that down as it would interfere with apparent need to put this matter to rest quickly. He said he would follow administratively. Obviously, the need for an expansion of an existing facility is of a higher priority than the health of County Taxpayers like myself, my neighbors and anyone who uses the bay. My entire purpose was to revise the agreement to demonstrate checks and balances that ensure public safety, health and use. TOO MUCH TO ASK.
I intend on seeing this effort through and holding the County to the same standard that they would have held a private entity to, if this request were generated differently. I provided them with examples of what a true proposal for a gun range looks like, as evidenced by the many professional applications made elsewhere in our region. By not making such requirements on this parcel, the Commission is demonstrating the following:
- They feel they are exceptional and not subject to the standards they enforce on other development requests
- They are more concerned with feeding their own needs to see this project unfold than they are with the health and welfare of the surrounding community and Sarasota at large
- They are not concerned with the legal burden they are placing on the backs of taxpayers should this matter becoming a civil legal action.
This is what a REAL public proposal for a gun range looks like:
The Commissioners made no such efforts.
Please write to your commissioners today and express your discontent. The collective email is Commissioners@scgov.net
Let them know you oppose their decision to push their Pinelands Reserve agenda through without taking the proper measures. Feel free to copy this body and send it if you cannot express your frustrations your self.
I may decide to run for Commission when this ends. I think the the Board could use a pissed off Sarasota Native on the side of fairness. What do you think? Who has my vote?