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DeWitt County Board members review the request for a special-use permit for the LeRoy Rifle and Pistol Club before an audience of about 150 people packed into the courtroom Wednesday night at the county building in Clinton.

CLINTON — The LeRoy Rifle and Pistol Club will be moving to DeWitt County, but it may take some time before the club begins operation.

The DeWitt County Board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a special-use permit for the club, which is planning to move from McLean County to 40 acres it bought near Waynesville.

The board, however, attached three provisions recommended by the Regional Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. Before beginning any operations, the club must have a noise mitigation plan in effect, must have its plans for building in a flood plain approved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and take lead control measures as approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. State law prohibits building or moving dirt in a flood plain.

"We will abide by all of those stipulations and have the proper permits in place," said Amy Rupiper, an attorney for the club.

The club purchased the land northwest of Wapella about 1½ years ago to build a meeting place and gun range because the lease was expiring on their club near LeRoy.

"I am displeased," Funderberg said following the meeting. "The LeRoy Gun Club has misled, lied and done everything they possibly could do to get this passed. They put the restrictions on, but who is going to police them? It's my responsibility.

"It's a flood plain and it may take them five years to get these permits and that's fine, but we are still going to be there," she added.

Club President Tim Dazey said he is ready to move forward.

"We're just happy to get through this process," he said following the meeting.

Club officials said they plan to have events on Saturdays and Sundays from spring through the fall, attracting more than 100 members and guests at times. 

About 150 people attended the meeting Wednesday at the DeWitt County building in Clinton, and more than a dozen people spoke to the board before the vote.

Noise was among concerns raised by neighbors, and the club promised to work toward averaging 87 decibels or less at least 85 percent of the time. That would be equivalent to a lawnmower or farm equipment, club officials said.

Funderberg argued the county ordinances state that no gun club can be established within 1 mile of a residence, and her residence would be 230 feet from where the members would be shooting. Gun club officials argued the ordinance means a residential neighborhood.

Other neighbors, such as John Heinlen, argued that property values would decrease as a result.

"I have been around gun ranges all of my life," he said. "I would never buy a home next to a gun range."

Funderberg said she was surprised at the unanimous vote.

"We thought this was a no-brainer for the County Board," Funderberg added. "We have given them all of the facts."

Funderberg said she will consult with attorney Joe Taylor to see what options  remain.

"I voted 'yes,' but I want Mrs. Funderberg to understand that this is tough," said board member Melonie Tilley. "Everything went through the ZBA and their findings were that they were OK with it, but it's very tough."

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Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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