Bullseye Gun club wins long battle with neighbour

20:06, Aug 28 2012
Gun Club
TAKING AIM: Waiuku Pistol Club president Trevor says the club’s ‘‘now thriving’’ despite a lengthy consent battle.

An open airgun club is still standing despite efforts to shoot it down.

Firearms fans from across Auckland travel to the Waiuku Pistol Club, which is tucked away just out of sight of Karioitahi Beach.

The 30-year-old club is the only one in Auckland where enthusiasts can shoot pistols, rifles and shotguns in the open air.

But it's nothing short of a miracle it still exists, club president Trevor, who does not want his last name used, says.

Noise complaints have dogged the club for more than a decade, forcing it through a resource consent process that cost it money and members.

They've come from a resident who bought a nearby house in 1995 and launched the first of many complaints to the then-Franklin District Council soon after.

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His gripes centred around a 1982 resource consent, granted when the club had 16 members, that allowed them to shoot every day between 9am and 5pm.

The neighbour couldn't be contacted by the Papakura Courier despite several attempts.

But in a statement to the former Franklin council he outlines his reasons for wanting restrictions put on the club.

He knew the club existed when he bought the property but says he was led to believe it was still small.

He felt the consent didn't cater for the club's rocketing membership, which neared 200 at one point, and there was a "constant noise of gunfire during the day and night".

He eventually lodged an application with the Environment Court, citing the council's "indifference and lack of enforcement".

Trevor says the club responded by applying for a new resource consent.

The neighbour opposed that as well, saying the club had built new shooting ranges, was using more powerful firearms and was sub-letting the ranges to other shooting clubs and the New Zealand Police under the guise of expanding membership.

He also accused the club of being an eyesore, having a poor safety record and of poisoning the environment with lead.

Ultimately, the neighbour told the council the club's activities had "compromised the living environment and the health and wellbeing of residents in the area".

The council dismissed most of his complaints for lack of evidence, but did agree there was a noise problem, mainly caused by police use of the range.

A new consent was granted after an "expensive and exhausting" battle costing more than $150,000, Trevor says. It came with restrictions: Shooting was limited to 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday, and except on 18 days each year all shooting had to be from within the range's noise-dampening shelters.

The club started an appeal of the restrictions but it "got lost" when its property became part of the Waikato district in the super-city amalgamation.

News that the club's landlord wanted to sell the site was the last straw and membership plummeted.

However, the gun club is now back on its feet with a new five-year lease.

Go to waiukupistolclub.org.nz for more information on the club.

Papakura Courier