Appellate Court decision favors proposed shooting range

A student uses a laser training pistol during an American Medical Resource Institute class to help train people for the new concealed carry law in Illinois. | John Konstantaras/For Sun-Times Media
A student uses a laser training pistol during an American Medical Resource Institute class to help train people for the new concealed carry law in Illinois. | John Konstantaras/For Sun-Times Media

LINCOLNWOOD — Gun shop owner Mitch Shore’s ongoing fight to open a shooting range in Lincolnwood gained momentum this week after the Appellate Court of Illinois overturned a prior ruling that upheld a decision by the village that shooting ranges weren’t included under a health club and private recreation ordinance.

Shore earlier this year appealed a November 2013 ruling by the circuit court of Cook County in favor of the village by contending that his application should never have been denied.

Under the representation of his attorney, Stewart Kusper of Chicago-based Kusper Law Group. Ltd., Shore appealed on the grounds that the zoning ordinance that was in effect when he filed his application with the village unambiguously permitted a shooting range under the “health club or private recreation” permitted-use provision.

Shore’s mission to open the shooting range as a permitted use under Lincolnwood’s zoning ordinance prompted village officials two years ago to revise Lincolnwood’s ordinance on health clubs and private recreation.

Trustees in 2012 amended the code to eliminate vagueness and specifically exclude shooting ranges, but the sole subject of review for the judges who overturned the case Monday was a 2008 ordinance that was in effect when Shore filed his application.

The judges who made the August 18 ruling in favor of Shore stated the language of the zoning ordinance that was in effect prior to the 2012 revisions was “unambiguous.”

Court documents also stated that shooting ranges for pistol and rifle shooting are considered a recreational activity.

Moreover, the ruling said Shore’s proposal for the shooting range “falls squarely within the broad language used in the ordinance,” and that “common sense dictates that target shooting is considered a sport as it is an Olympic sporting event and a recognized sporting activity within the national college associations”—according to court documents.

The reversal of the Cook County court’s opinion this week is a big victory for Shore, who has been fighting with the village to expand his gun shop at 3318 W. Devon Ave. as a firearms shooting range since 1989.

Shore first took his case to the circuit court of Cook County in the spring of 2013 after both the village and the Zoning Board of Appeals blocked his recent attempts to expand the business.

Now that the circuit court’s ruling against Shore has been overturned, the village can file a motion for a rehearing in the Appellate Court, or they could ask for a leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

If neither of those routes are taken within a 21-day period from the ruling made last Monday, the matter would go back to the circuit court, where the judge would act to reverse the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision and order that the gun range be considered a permitted use under the ordinance that was in effect when Shore initially filed his application.

Kusper said the court’s decision “vindicated his clients’ position in all respects.”

“(The judges) made findings straight down the line in our favor on all of the arguments we made from the beginning,” Kusper said.

Village manager Tim Wiberg said the Village Board may consider its next steps at the executive (closed) session during the August 19 Village Board Meeting.

“(The ruling) doesn’t give (Shore Galleries) the opportunity to come in and build the shooting range,” Wibeg said. “It allows them to apply for the building permit, but they would still have to go through a list of other provisions.”

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