FORT COLLINS — Larry Curran moved to the Ptarmigan subdivision about a year ago for its quiet atmosphere and peaceful views of the neighboring golf course.
But Curran, along with many other Ptarmigan residents, fear that if a shooting range is built on the land to the northwest of their subdivision, they will have to deal with noise that will decrease their property values and quality of life.
“What I would ask the panel to think about is would you bank your mortgage on your decision,” he said to the Larimer County commissioners during a public hearing Monday night.
The commissioners unanimously approved Colorado Youth Outdoors’ special exception request to build an education pavilion and trap and skeet shooting range on its 240-acre property near Windsor with conditions such as a noise mitigation plan and the hours and days of operation.
“Safety and noise issues can be mitigated,” said Commissioner Randy Eubanks.
However, the commissioners indicated that if modeling did not show that the sound levels could be brought down to reasonable levels at the boundaries of the property, the subject would be brought back for reconsideration.
The property sits just south of County Road 36 and north of County Road 34C, immediately east of Interstate 25 and west of County Road 5.
Loveland-based Colorado Youth Outdoors is a nonprofit that works to build relationships between children and parents by sharing outdoor experiences. The proposed facilities would be available for free to qualified nonprofits such as 4-H and the Boy Scouts.
“It’s truly a family deal,” said Chuck Freitag of Loveland, who was one of several of the 48 speakers at the meeting who gave pleas in support of the proposed project.
The request was in front of the commissioners in late September, but was tabled when applicant Bob Hewson requested more time to resolve some potential concerns with adjacent landowners. In the past month, Hewson had a couple of meetings with property owners and neighbors to explain the project more fully and conduct a sound test.
“We want to work with the neighbors as much as possible on this,” Hewson said, adding that they could try to minimize the number of shooting days to 75 per year.
Neighboring landowners, developers and residents of Ptarmigan said they weren’t against the mission of Colorado Youth Outdoors or the proposed project, just the shooting range.
“It’s noisy. It’s disturbing,” said Ptarmigan resident William Wollenberg.
B.J. Johanningmeier, who also lives in Ptarmigan, feared the decrease in his property values from the perception people might have that there would be lots of noise and safety issues associated with a shooting range.
“Perception is a very difficult thing to get over when you’re trying to sell a house,” he said.
Some of the speakers in support of the project noted that they felt there was lack of shooting ranges in the area.
Mark Cousins, the hunter education coordinator with Colorado Department of Wildlife, said that about 1,600 children in Larimer and Weld counties this year have passed through the hunter education program and would benefit from a shooting facility.
“Ranges are being crowded out by development,” Cousins said.
“We’re losing (shooting opportunities).”