Residents concerned about proposed ‘military-grade’ training facility

Posted at 4:43 PM, Nov 01, 2016

BLUE LAKE TWP., Mich. - A controversy is brewing in Muskegon County over a proposed military and police training academy.  The owner says it will offer private training sessions, but residents are worried it will disturb their otherwise peaceful neighborhood.

RFI (Ranger Firearm Instruction) Academy has been around since 2010, but they are now looking to build a 'home base' in Blue Lake Township.  The proposed military grade educational firearms training facility would be on 60 acres of residential land just outside of the Manistee National Forest.  The township would have to rezone the land into a contract zone, allowing RFI to operate.

Owner Joe Brugnoli tells FOX 17 that it would be an educational center for law enforcement, military personnel and even civilians.  He admits that they do sometimes operate late into the night, like until 10:00pm.  He says they are a training academy and not a gun club.

The original proposal for RFI was to buy 120 acres on Hyde Park Estates, but after a bidding war for the property, RFI now wants the 60 acres across the street.

Lyle Monette, who sits on the township board and is the secretary of the planning commission, says most nearby residents are against it.  Their concerns are about noise and also about "misplaced shots." They are also concerned about their property values because the area is zoned residential, but the change would mean they'd be building "bunkers."

RFI will be making their presentation to the township Thursday at 7:00pm.  Because of the interest in the proposal, the meeting will be held at Blue Lake Community Church at Blue Lake Road and Meinert Road, instead of the Township Hall offices.