Litchfield Homeowners Battle Owners of Gun Range in Litchfield - NBC Connecticut

Litchfield Homeowners Battle Owners of Gun Range in Litchfield

(Published Monday, July 18, 2016)

Some Litchfield homeowners are not happy about a gun club shooting range that the town has already shut down and say the sound of gunfire is crackling through the neighborhood again, despite a cease-and-desist order. 

The order was issued on the gun club/shooting range in January 2015 and neighbors said all was quiet for about a year, but the shooting recently started back up. 

“We had a cease-and-desist order issued by the town of Litchfield which makes this gun club no longer a gun club, but unfortunately there has been a lot of activity that sounds and looks like a gun club," said Margaret Deakin, a resident of McBride Road. 

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters first met the group in 2014, when there was tension between residents and the owner of the Northfield Reserve Land Trust, which was formerly known as the Northfield Gun Range. 

When the longtime skeet and trap club opened to high-powered weapons training for public and private practice shooting; residents complained about the shooting going on all day. 

Neighbors said it stopped after the cease and desist was issued. In March, the Litchfield Superior Court issued a ruling supporting the zoning board's action, but neighbors said shooting has gone on again more than a dozen times since Memorial Day. 

Residents complained to the town and, according to a June 3 legal opinion from the town's planning and zoning attorney, Frank Stack Sr., the owner of Happy Acres farm, violated the cease-and-desist order by allowing shooting on his 43-acre property on Memorial Day weekend. 

Neighbors said it’s happened on weekends in June as well. 

Laurie Battick said the shooting impacts her husband, John, a Korean War veteran. 

“It upsets him too. He was in the war and it just brings back memories,” she said. 

“What I’d like to see done is they enforce the cease-and-desist order the town placed on the property, that it can't be used as a shooting range any longer. He lost all his appeals in court and I’d like to see it all enforced," she added. 

Attorney Jim Steck represents several of the homeowners and said his clients “feel the spirit and letter of that cease-and-desist order are being violated with multiple people and multiple instances and semi-automatic weapons are constant.' 

Several people packed the planning and zoning meeting in Litchfield on Monday night and several McBride Road residents said Frank Stack Sr. and his son are violating a cease-and-desist order the town issued in January 2015. They halted operations of their so-called gun club-shooting range, but neighbors said they started up again in May and want a court-issued injunction. 

“It’s more about compliance and he fails to comply. Anyone has the right to shoot on their property, can't bring in guys 10-15 a clip and blow off ammo," Deering said. 

On Monday evening, town officials went on a fact-finding mission and spoke with both sides. 

“I think, at this point in time, we're being harassed. We have complied with every legal form of the court decision,” Frank Stack Sr. said.

"This is not being operated as a commercial range, My son enjoys shooting, he's the person who shoots there. There's a difference between commercial and private shooting range and I’m shooting privately with friends," Frank Stack Jr. said.

Prior to the cease and desist, law enforcement and members of the military had fired their weapons there, but not anymore, according to the Stacks. 

When asked if they are violating the cease and desist order, the Stacks said, “Absolutely not, put me on camera, absolutely not.” 

Both sides claim they are being harassed, and both sides deny.

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