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Local News

NRA had hand in writing zoning proposal, Kendall County Board member says

Mark Perle
Mark Perle

A Kendall County Board member recently criticized the role gun rights advocacy organizations have played in shaping a proposal to change zoning rules for outdoor shooting ranges in rural Kendall County.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday to vote on whether to place a moratorium on approving outdoor shooting ranges until December 2020. A proposal has been drafted that would change the rules for special-use zoning for such ranges.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting held last Thursday, board member Audra Hendrix said the National Rifle Association had a hand in writing part of the proposed zoning change. Hendrix also said she was “appalled” a proposal, written by residents objecting to the changes, was not included in the board members’ packet for review.

“We represent the citizens and not the NRA,” Hendrix said. “And while I’m not for taking guns away from people, because I myself enjoy shooting, this is a slap in the face to the people of Kendall County.”

Hendrix said she will “never vote yes for this,” and the board should be able to come up with a solution that deals with issues of safety and noise.

“This, provided by the NRA, is like having drug dealers write your drug policy,” she said. “Absolutely not.”

Board member Matt Kellogg, who is a member of the board’s Planning, Building and Zoning Committee, said the NRA did not have a hand in writing the rules. Kellogg said he is “the one that started this.”

“The NRA didn’t just write this; we’ve been working on this for 14 months,” Kellogg said.

During an August Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on the topic, David Lombardo, a consultant with Safer USA, a self-proclaimed firearms training school, and president of the Aurora Sportsmen’s Club in Waterman, told the committee “a number of these” proposed changes came from him.

Lombardo also serves on the Fox Valley Friends of the NRA committee, is an endowment life member of the NRA, is a life member of the Illinois State Rifle Association and is active with the Will County Chapter of the ISRA, according to his biography on the Safer USA website.

At Thursday’s meeting, Hendrix said Lombardo wrote the policy, but Kellogg, county board Chairman Scott Gryder, and board member Bob “H.D.” Davidson said that was not true.

Gryder said the policy came from the zoning committee. Kellogg said the policy would help protect the citizens.

“Right now, we’ve got nothing,” Kellogg said.

Even board member John Purcell, who told the committee he plans on voting against the changes, said the policy has more restrictions on outdoor ranges than the current rules.

“This has more restrictions than nothing at all, maybe not many but more,” Purcell said.

However, a group of county residents who have objected to the changes believe the changes loosen the current restrictions in place.

Mark Perle, a resident of Old Ridge Road in Plainfield, was one of several residents who attended the Thursday committee meeting and has attended meetings throughout the process, objecting to the changes.

“There’s no law in this as I read it; it’s wide open,” he said.

Perle said Lombardo “indirectly represents the NRA and largely wrote this proposal.” He said Lombardo has warned the county it’s “going to get sued if you don’t make these changes we’re demanding.”

“He wrote it entirely in favor of the gun community,” Perle said.

Perle said the changes “guarantee [the county] is gonna get sued.”

“You’re gonna get sued because you’ve got no rules, no regulations in here,” Perle said. “You’re gonna have one set of rules for a gun range over here and another set of rules for a gun range over here, and they’re gonna argue that these rules are capricious and irresponsible, and they’re gonna win.”

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