Concerned Blue Lake Twp citizens weigh in on proposed military training facility

Posted at 11:48 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 23:48:22-04

BLUE LAKE TWP, Mich. -- Nearly a hundred people gathered Thursday night to share their thoughts on a proposed military and police academy in Blue Lake Township, many of them putting their foot down citing concerns over noise and safety.

FOX 17 first reported on this story Tuesday. Ranger Firearm Instruction (RFI) is looking at establishing a military grade educational firearms training facility just outside of the Manistee National Forest. Their proposed "home base" would cover 63 acres of residential land that would need to be rezoned into a contract zone. Owner Joe Brugnoli says it will primarily serve law enforcement and military groups looking for extra training, as well as providing private one-on-one lessons for civilians.

More than 50 people spoke during public comment on Thursday. One of the residents, Bob, says he'd live right next door to the facility and is worried about the possibility of day-and-night operations.

"This is not what Blue Lake Township is about," Bob said. "We're about tranquility, camping, fishing and hunting."

Brugnoli says noise won't be an issue, as they updated their plans to have 20 acres in between the facility and the approximately 40 surrounding homes in the area.

The facility would be open seven days a week, with some training sessions lasting after 10 p.m. RFI says the Blue Lake area was chosen because the land can be easily developed and is NRA approved.

"We're not a gun range or a gun club, there's a big misconception about that," Brugnoli said. "We want to be an education and training facility."

RFI's presence would provide an economic boost to the area, Brugnoli says, as people would from across the Midwest would travel to the facility and will be spending money at local hotels and restaurants.

Other concerns were about "misplaced shots" that could possibly strike them or their homes and the possibility of lowered property values.

The next step in the process is for the proposal to be considered by the Blue Lake Township Board. There is currently no set time for that yet.