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Problem Solvers: Stray bullets ignite gun range dispute

Posted at 10:19 PM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 22:19:07-05

TWIN LAKE, Mich. — A fight for safety that has been ongoing for a month as residents of this Muskegon County neighborhood say Grasmeyer gun range is a hazard, and some say stray bullets are landing in their yards.

Several months ago, FOX 17 spoke with concerned neighbors who have now come forward with new grievances. But a possible solution might be in sight.

The neighbors’ biggest complaint is that a resolution for a simple request -- safety -- is taking far too long. But the neighborhood might finally get what residents are asking for.  The township and Grasmeyer gun range, who FOX 17 spoke with on the phone Friday, said there could be a solution in sight within the next 10 days.

Six months ago, John Dollaway's front yard was sealed off with caution tape. A  6- by 10-foot sign was also in the works. It was something he hoped he’d never have to put up.

“Let’s just get this straightened out. This is getting tiring,” said Dollaway.

He hoped the township would put a stop to something he says is obvious.

"This is not just for me to be a butthead about things," Dollaway said. "I literally want people to know if they get hurt at the front of my yard, with a bullet, it’s not from me, it’s from the gun range."

He's talking about stray bullets from Grasmeyer gun range, which is only about 500 feet from the end of Dollaway's backyard.  But he said he’s heard nothing despite numerous calls to Grasmeyer and Dalton Township supervisor Jerry Mcintyre. So he decided to beef up his personal protest.

The sign got an upgrade from the last time we were at Dollaway’s home. He’s not giving up the fight.

"Because it’s my freedom of speech for one thing, and people need to know what’s going on," Dollaway said. "It’s my personal protest. I want it safe in my backyard and so do my neighbors.”

Aside from fearing for his life when he’s in the backyard, it’s caused Dollaway a few other issues.

“Our property values are just sinking down to nothing," he said. "Going into the toilet. As far as I am concerned, they must not think my house is worth anything.”

During his search for a new home insurance company, Dollaway's sign flashed some red flags for potential insurers.

"I got a call at the beginning of the week that they are not going to be able to insure me because the sign is saying warning, there is a gun range," There’s a gun range in the backyard, regardless whether they think it’s mine or Grasmeyer. There is a gun range.”

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for Dollaway. Mcintyre, the township supervisor, told FOX 17 that on Dec. 14 he will be presenting a safety plan that Grasmeyer and the township worked on together for safety measures.

We asked what those safety measures entail, but he said he would not release details until it is presented.

Grasmeyer officials, who declined an on-camera interview, told us over the phone that they are happy with these new safety precautions.

Dollaway is optimistic there’s a solution in sight. But he said he’s not holding his breath, if the township’s communication with the people whose safety is at risk is any indication.