Range put on back burner

The new Skyway shooting range that the Paradise Rod and Gun Club had hoped to build is on hold yet again, after a Butte County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against its construction last week.

Chico attorney Richard Crabtree, who is representing a group of citizens opposed to the project, said he and his clients were very happy with the judge’s action, not only because it halted construction, but also because it showed the merits of their case. In order for the judge to issue the order, he must see “a reasonable probability that we will prevail,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree’s clients, a group of Paradise-area residents calling themselves Neighbors for Responsible Action (NRA­get it?), filed suit against Butte County in January after the Board of Supervisors approved construction of a new shooting range for the club, to be located off Skyway about three miles west of the Paradise town limits. The board had previously voted down a similar club proposal for a slightly larger shooting range on the property.

Though the club proposal calls for a “no blue sky” range that would supposedly shield neighbors from noise and danger, the suit filed in opposition states that the range would severely affect nearby residents’ quality of life.

The club’s lawyer, Chico attorney William Apger, said neighbors’ concerns regarding noise, potential threats to wildlife, safety, and lead contamination had all been addressed by the permitting process. Even if there were a potential threat to the environment, he said, the need for a safe place to shoot is so great that it ought to override those concerns.

“Law enforcement drastically needs this range,” he said. “The people of Butte County need this range to have a safe place to shoot. No matter where you go, there is no regulated place to practice their pastime.”

The previous proposal for the range was voted down by a 3-2 margin with Supervisors Houx and Dolan and former Paradise Supervisor Fred C. Davis opposed. The most recent vote was 3-2 in the other direction, with present Paradise supervisor Kim Yamaguchi casting the deciding vote.