CLINTON — A DeWitt County woman who has promised to never give up her fight to keep a proposed gun club from near her property is suing to stop the project.
Dawn Funderberg has filed a civil lawsuit against the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals, the DeWitt County Board, The LeRoy Rifle & Pistol Club, and its parent company, American Heritage Holdings.
“We raised five or six issues and some are fixable issues,” said her lawyer, Joe Taylor. “But I think this case comes down to a couple of things. First, you can’t build a gun club within one mile of a residential development and second, when issuing a special-use permit, you have to show that it won’t result in diminished property values.”
In May, the County Board voted to approve a special-use permit for the club that plans to move from McLean County to 40 acres it bought near Waynesville. That property borders property owned by Funderberg, who has fought the club since it purchased the property more than two years ago.
“The residential development is subject to interpretation,” Taylor said. “Our interpretation is that there are homes in the area and that constitutes a development and you can’t build a gun club near a development. Also, we had a licensed appraiser testify that Dawn Funderberg would lose about $30,000 on her property value if the gun club is built. That’s clear. If we win these two battles, there is no way they can build there.”
DeWitt County State’s Attorney Dan Markwell will represent the county and ZBA in the lawsuit, filed recently in DeWitt County Circuit Court.
“It will be an administrative review, which means there won’t be any testimony or evidence,” said Markwell. “The judge will look at the evidence that was presented at the ZBA and make a determination and a finding. I have filed the county’s position on this and we will now wait for a court date.”
Monticello attorney Amy Rupiper has represented the gun club at several meetings, and filed her entry of appearance in June, but did not return messages for comment.
Funderberg and several other neighbors aired their concerns during Regional Planning Commission, ZBA and County Board meetings about having a social club next to their property. They cited concerns such as increased noise and traffic.
The board attached three provisions in passing the special-use permit, including insisting the club has a noise mitigation plan in effect, has plans for building in a flood plain approved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and has a lead control plan approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Meanwhile, Funderberg said many of the concerns addressed during those hearings already have started happening.
“They erected a barbed wire fence and I was picking water bottles out of my yard,” she said. “They are throwing trash and beer bottles on my property.”
The club plans to build a gun range and a meeting club on the site. Some of the property is in a flood plain and any construction would have to be approved by the IEPA.