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Lake County residents, veterans fed up with skeet shooting noises at Kirtland Country Club

Lake County residents fed up with skeet shooting noises at Kirtland Country Club
Posted at 9:24 AM, Mar 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-14 09:24:17-04

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — People in Lake County are fed up with the noise from skeet shooting at a nearby country club.

Those rallying outside the Kirtland Country Club in Willoughby Saturday said the loud sounds are causing negative effects for people in surrounding communities like Kirtland, especially military veterans and children.

“Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, like noon to 4 p.m. It's gunshots, it echoes through the ravine,” said Bill Gray, a U.S. Navy veteran who lives a mile-and-a-half from the club.

Gray said the constant noise every weekend has been hard on his wife who works long hours as a nurse practitioner.

“Raises her blood pressure. She can't get her work done or charting,” Gray said.

Its also triggering for him and his in-laws. Both he and his father-in-law are U.S. Navy vets.

“Every time I hear the guns, I go back to the Cold War,” Gray said. “My dad's a Navy vet. He was in the fire control with guns, and it shakes him up. It sends him right back to the Korean War.”

Protesters said it also affects children in the area.

“You got a little kid out here who takes the batteries out of his hearing aids. And he's afraid to go outside and play. That to me is just appalling,” Luke Sawicki, a military veteran protesting with the group, said.

Kirtland mayor Kevin Potter said the noise from the skeet shooting at the club has been a burden on local residents for years, and conversations to put an end to it have been unsuccessful.

“You know, at the end of the day, some of the members here just aren't willing to stop shooting,” Potter said.

He also said there’s little that can be done legally to stop it from happening.

The club, which is technically located in Willoughby, got a permit from the city allowing skeet shooting back in 2015. Then, the city revoked that permit based on noise complaints, but the club fought back in court.

“Ultimately the country club’s ability to shoot was upheld in court. So from the standpoint of any legal recourse or channels that I think those don't exist anymore,” Potter said.

We reached out to the Kirtland Country Club about residents’ concerns. The club’s general manager sent this statement:

For 100 years, The Kirtland Country Club has been a safe and welcoming environment for our members, their families, and their guests to enjoy various year-round amenities and activities. We also take pride in being a vital part of our surrounding community.

The Club has worked in collaboration with local officials and national experts to make certain that the skeet program is properly permitted and remains compliant with all legal requirements. The courts have consistently ruled in the Club’s favor. Throughout the years, we have taken additional proactive measures to mitigate further disturbances the skeet program may have to the surrounding community.

For the past six years, our Club, our board members, and members have been subjected to a public pressure and harassment campaign led by a very small group of individuals. Recently, at the end of January 2021, this group increased the harassment, to include threats to our members and their businesses. This included the spread of false, disparaging, and derogatory messages about The Kirtland Country Club, our members, and our skeet program. This new messaging included statements that we are anti-veteran and not concerned with veterans’ mental health and their overall wellbeing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Based on this recent new messaging from these individuals, we learned for the first time that our skeet shooting might affect two veterans who live in the area. In response, in February 2021 Club representatives, including a member who is a veteran of foreign war, met with these two individuals, along with three other veterans and other residents, to learn more about their thoughts on our skeet program.

The Kirtland Country Club employs veterans, we have members who are veterans, including veterans of foreign wars, members whose companies hire veterans, and members who host veterans as guests to shoot skeet at The Kirtland Country Club. Our members who are veterans and their guests share that they find shooting skeet at the Club to be therapeutic.

Unfortunately, with no legal recourse remaining, this small local group continues to harass, threaten, and now publicly pressure the Club to end the skeet program.

We stand by our right to legally operate this properly permitted program. And we thank all veterans and current service members for their service and commitment to protecting our freedom.
Mark D. Petzing, CCM, CCE General Manager / COO The Kirtland Country Club

Potter said he would like to sit down with club members again to hopefully come to a resolution.

“Hear maybe some ways they can either scale back or stop -- and what they're willing to do,” Potter said. “Ultimately, we'd love to hear from them in that regard.”

As for Gray, he’s hoping for the shooting to go elsewhere and for peace and quiet to come back to his neighborhood.

“They have the right to shoot and that's okay, but when it disturbs our whole neighborhood, hundreds and hundreds of people that's the issue. The inconsideration for us, just sheer disrespect,” Gray said.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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