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10
Hunting club proposal clears hurdle
The county zoning board approves Rep. Dave Winters' request to run the club on his land.

By PAT MILHIZER, Rockford Register Star
>> Click here for more about Pat



ROCKFORD -- A lawmaker's request to run a private hunting club in Shirland Township scored its first victory Wednesday, winning approval from the Winnebago County Zoning Board of Appeals.


State Rep. Dave Winters will now ask County Board members to let him renovate a former creamery into a lodge and run a private club on his property at 13002 Harrison Road.


Wednesday's decision is significant because the County Board usually approves petitions that clear the board of appeals. The proposal could reach the County Board on Dec. 23.


About a year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid Winters and his wife, Kathy, $937,000 to redevelop the site, home to the Winterses' farm. The government will turn 457 of 570 acres back to wetlands and prairie.


Winters still owns the land, and the government program lets him lease it for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities. Winters already lets hunters use the land, as many farmers do in unincorporated areas.


Club members would hunt waterfowl and pheasants in the fall and winter. The club also would have a clay-shooting range.


The board of appeals approved the request 5-0 amid two neighbors' concerns about noise near Shirland School, times allowed for clay shooting, alcohol consumption on the site, the club exceeding 15 members and the permit's expiration.


Carroll Brumfield, who unsuccessfully ran for Winters' seat in November, raised all of those concerns and requested that the permit expire when the land is transferred to another owner.


The board of appeals amended the proposal to say:



Clay shooting wouldn't be allowed from a half-hour before school begins to a half-hour after school ends. Hunting would be allowed during that time.



The permit would expire if the club ceased operations for a year.


Winters agreed to those terms and said hunting would not be allowed when club members are drinking alcohol.


David Bennett lives near Shirland School and hunts on Winters' property. He was one of three residents who spoke in favor of the petition.


Concerning noise, Bennett said, "If you weren't listening for it, you probably wouldn't notice it."


Bennett also said the club wouldn't be larger than about 15 members because the property's size wouldn't allow for more than that.


Contact: pmilhizer@registerstartower.com; 815-987-1345

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