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Fruitland Township board to discuss new firearms ordinance

Posted at 4:11 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 21:43:52-04

FRUITLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Fruitland Township board voted to indefinitely suspend a firearms ordinance Monday.

The proposed Article R62 would have regulated the use of firearms within the township.

Currently, there are no such ordinances.

Article R62 said no person shall discharge any pistol, revolver, shotgun, or rifle within the township unless a person is a member of law enforcement, is protecting life or property, is at a shooting range, or is hunting, or is shooting on land that is 10 acres or larger, and is at least 500 feet from the nearest structure and in a district zoned as agricultural or rural residential. People would need to stop firing their guns at 8:30 p.m. or sunset.

Dozens of people showed up to the meeting to voice their disapproval, saying R62 violated their right to bear arms.

“Where did you people think you could pull this off?” asked William Griswold. “How dare you try to pass this through and shove it down our throats.”

Marcia Jeske, the township supervisor, says after numerous noise complaints the board decided to look into creating an ordinance.

“We said, ‘Well you know, we want to listen to everybody. Let’s just talk about it,’” said Jeske.

Jeske says an attorney presented the article to them, basing it off of a similar one in Grand Haven, during a work session last week. They then decided to put it on Monday’s agenda for discussion and sent an email seeking public comment.

According to Jeske, some people interpreted it as a vote though, creating the uproar.

Jeske says there are no plans to propose a similar ordinance unless a future board decides to bring it up again.

“A lot of misunderstanding, but it happens,” said Jeske.

Two people spoke in favor of the ordinance or one like it.

Patty Grossel and her husband David Leonard believe a letter from more than two dozen of their neighbors, including them, complaining about the noise from a nearby homeowner continuously shooting his gun prompted the board to begin looking into a regulation ordinance.

Grossel and Leonard say their neighborhood believes the gunshots could be upsetting to veterans, pets, and children.

“We can’t do firecrackers because of noise ordinances, but this is okay?” asked Grossel.

The couple says the reaction to the ordinance did not surprise them, however, they say they never intended to interfere with a person’s rights. They believe the proposal should have been worded better.

“This whole thing was about manners and courtesy,” said Leonard. “It has nothing to do with taking away anybody’s gun or something. It’s just where and when you want to shoot it. And to shoot an AR15, for people have never heard one, it is very raucous.”

Read the full proposed ordinance

Watch the meeting: