WESLEY CHAPEL, N.C. -- A shooting range owner won his two-year battle with the Village of Wesley Chapel after the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in his favor.
Wesley Chapel's fight against Dr. Michael Land cost the town an estimated $80,000, officials said. Town leaders will meet Monday to decide what's next.
Neighbors say the land use issue might be over, but not their attempts to shut down the shooting range over safety concerns.
The National Rifle Association examined the range and said it met or exceeded industry standards and posed no threat to the neighborhood. A separate study by an engineer on behalf of neighbors disputes the NRA's findings.
It sounds like warfare in the middle of Kathy Patterson's slice of heaven in horse farm laden Union County.
"You can't sit in your backyard and talk to somebody sitting next to you. You have to yell," Patterson said.
Machine guns at Land's shooting range fire up to 900 rounds a minute next to Patterson's house.
"It shakes your house," Patterson said. "I have a right to be safe on my property."
Wesley Chapel town leaders agreed.
It slapped a cease and desist order on the range, saying it was illegal because it violated land use laws and didn't have permits when it was built back in 1988. The town also passed a firearms ordinance -- due mostly to Land's range -- prohibiting gunfire within 450 feet of homes, businesses or schools.
Two years ago Land said he would fight the town tooth and nail. He did -- and he won.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Land complied with all rules, didn't need a permit, didn't alter the range's use and is grandfathered in, meaning the firearms ordinance town leaders passed doesn't apply to Land's range.
The town spent about $80,000 fighting Land in court. That was neighbor Garry Hager's tax money.
"I hate to see my tax dollars go to that but I understand why they probably had to,” Hager said.
Patterson says she's not done fighting. "There are other issues we're pursuing,” she said.
Town leaders plan to talk about their defeat next Monday and decide if it is still a battle worth trying to take to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The Land family says it will be at Wesley Chapel’s meeting Monday, victorious and gloating.
"I will speak my peace, too," Patterson said.
Land says he is happy the court upheld his property rights and says he spent about $42,000 fighting Wesley Chapel.