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New gun range near school land has parents nervous | News

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New gun range near school land has parents nervous

Lakewood Ranch, Florida -- Parents at a Bradenton school are worried the sounds of shotguns could turn their outdoor learning lab into a scary place for their kids.

The sounds and science of nature.

That's what kids from Center Montessori School in Bradenton come to eastern Manatee County about once a month to experience.

They call the 10-acre plot where they've planted trees and hung a rope swing their Land Lab.

"Finding equal ground between nature and academics is really important to us," explained Mara Fulk, the school's administrator.

But if a hearing officer approves a special permit, the distant sounds of shotguns could start riding the breeze here.

The school's learning lab is down the road from the area where Ancient Oak Gun Club is proposing a shooting range for shotgun sports. The distance between the two plots -- nearest corner to nearest corner -- is just shy of a mile at 4,180 feet.

"In light of everything that has happened just this year alone in Aurora, Colorado and now in Newtown, Connecticut, it's scary -- it's also very scary to the children to potentially hear the sounds of gunfire," parent Amy Lambert said.

Could a shot physically reach the school's property? Experts say not even close.

Gun ranges are circled by a 900-foot safety zone for shotguns. The school's land is more than four times further away.

What about the sounds?

The under-construction gun range's manager declined to talk on camera. He did tell me he understands parents' concerns. He's offered to bring anyone from the community to the range property to get them familiar with that sound. And he says his team has used a decibel meter to make sure the gun range won't just meet -- but beats -- Manatee County's noise ordinance.

From the shooting range to the Land Lab, if the wind's just right, the gun club manager says students may hear faint, distant pops when the range is up and running.

Shooting ranges can be built on land that's zoned for agricultural use if the builders get a special permit and meet special state and local requirements.

Ancient Oak has applied for that special permit; a hearing officer is expected to approve it or turn it down by mid-January.


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