OXFORD – The Lafayette County Planning Commission defied the Board of Supervisors on Monday when commissioners voted against requiring a fence around proposed gun ranges.
Commissioners last month approved Josh Gregory’s plans to build four pistol ranges and a rifle range, but the Board of Supervisors remanded the case to the Planning Commission, whose members they appoint. Supervisors instructed the commission to include a fence around gun ranges adjacent to Gregory’s TGC Outdoors gun store between Oxford and Abbeville.
“The Board of Supervisors had questions about public safety regarding signing and fencing,” said County Engineer Larry Britt, who serves both boards. Safety concerns voiced at the supervisors’ meeting had included the possibility that children would unintentionally wander onto the range.
Gregory’s attorney, Reed Martz, argued against the fence.
“The other three sides are all private property. They are wooded; they are unpopulated,” he said, noting that anyone entering Gregory’s six-acre property would have had to trespass on at least one other property before trespassing on his.
Martz and Gregory reiterated that each range would be surrounded, except at a narrow entrance, with earthen berms 13 feet high or taller. The land’s bowl-shaped topography would provide even more berm height in some areas, Martz said.
“It is essentially unheard of to require a fence around a shooting range,” he said. “There are no safety concerns about anyone inadvertently coming onto the property. To put a fence of any significance would be cost-prohibitive.”
Gregory said a six-foot fence with razor wire around his berms would cost an estimated $48,000, calling that figure “prohibitive.”
Gregory also noted that county-owned F.D. “Buddy” East Law Enforcement Training Facility is unfenced.
“If I’m forced to build a fence around my range, then the county should have a fence around its range, and we will push for that,” he said.
Commission Chairman T.J. Ray moved to require a six-foot chain-link fence (without razor wire) around the ranges, with a second by Dick Marchbanks. Other commissioners voted down the motion, 3-2.
Martz said after the vote that he and Gregory hope for a favorable vote from supervisors on their second look at the project.
“We’ll go back to the Board of Supervisors and explain to them why a fence is not needed and hope that we’ll be able to proceed,” Martz said.