Valpo to check legality of Fetla's annexation petition

2012-07-09T21:45:00Z 2012-07-10T08:07:57Z Valpo to check legality of Fetla's annexation petitionBy Phil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

VALPARAISO | The fate of the proposed annexation of the Fetla's Trading Post site and its use as a gun range could depend on the results of legal research prompted by Monday's public hearing on the issue.

Lisa Brinckley is seeking annexation of about 6 acres, which includes the vacant Fetla's site and two adjacent parcels owned by Burton and Maureen Langer and Roger Gengo. The latter property owners agreed to join the annexation at the city's request while two others declined at this time.

The proposal recommended by the Valparaiso's Plan Commission would include zoning the property for general commercial use, which would permit a gun range in the 30,000-square-foot building. The plan is to spend more than $1 million in obtaining the property and putting in the three shooting lanes with five shooting stations in each as well as an archery range.

The building would include a retail area for the guns, ammunition and other sales. Brinckley agreed not to have any outdoor shooting or any outdoor sales of guns.

Exterior improvements would be made in three to five years, and no one would be allowed to carry loaded guns outside a case outside the building.

Several of the 35 residents attending the public hearing expressed concern about safety and noise and whether the range would cause property values to decline. It was pointed out the area around Fetla's was built up with nice homes after the store opened and sold guns.

Area resident Simone Byvoets brought up legal points, challenging whether anyone other than the owner of the property can ask for annexation, whether the property must first be brought into the city as rural farming zoning and the rezoning sought later and whether the legal descriptions for the property were correct.

Mayor Jon Costas said when annexation occurs it has been normal practice to give it a zoning that most closely resembles what it was in the county. In light of Byvoets' questions, Costas said the issues would be looked at before the annexation is due for a vote at the Valparaiso City Council's July 23 meeting.

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