Property owners near Derby neighborhood defend backyard shooting practices
SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - Emergency calls coming from a newly developed neighborhood in Derby have prompted Sedgwick Count officials to step in. Tuesday night, Eyewitness News reported about people in a Derby neighborhood, concerned with backyard shooting in a county neighborhood that backs up against them. In calls to 911, one neighbor reported a bullet striking his fence. It’s an ongoing problem, neighbors say, has been going on for months.
The county and city properties are separated by a tree line Wednesday, Eyewitness spoke with those who’ve been shooting at targets on the county side. The residents wanted to tell their side of the story, challenging accusations that their practice at their shooting ranges isn’t safe.
Along Joel Street near Derby, it used to be a piece of open land for homeowners. Now, just beyond their backyards sits a new housing development. Some homeowners with shooting ranges in their yards on the county side want their voices heard. Among them is Kristen Connell.
“We had beautiful deer and wildlife and it was great. Now we have houses and people that want to complain,” Connell said.
She said she has shot on her property near Derby for years, using handguns and shotguns.
“We are very safe when we do it. We built a big backdrop back there with a bunch of dirt,” Connell said.
Bill Angstadt lives a few houses down from Connell and echoes the defense of the target practice.
“We knew it would happen sometime, but we didn’t want to have it happen this soon, he said of the complaints from the nearby neighborhood. “I knew we would have complaints sooner or later, but like I said, we live in the county.”
Connell and Angstadt showed us their properties where they shoot and what safety measures they have in place.
“I built a very nice backstop that no bullets will ever go through, and I know for a fact we are doing everything safe,” Angstadt said.
But the problem remains for new homeowners with the noise, possibility of property damage and fear that someone could get hurt.
“I totally understand that the fear or the worry they have, but I think it goes back to, we have our right and they have their right. There should be a common ground in the middle,” Connell said.
The property owners on the county side are offering a compromise. This includes taking a fine if a bullet leaves their property, offering to let nearby homeowners know when they are going to shoot and offering an open invitation for concerned homeowners to see their properties and have a conversation.
With multiple complaints to law enforcement and county leaders involved, both sides say they want this sorted out. Now, they will have to figure out how.
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