Gun range already in place in Walters

Published 12:47 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Isle of Wight issues cease and desist order for American K-9 Interdiction

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of a shooting range at American K-9 Interdiction in Walters after a raucous public hearing May 24.

The next day, the company was issued a cease and desist order by the county after residents found evidence online that the proposed shooting range was already in operation without the necessary approval.

Violations could lead to the county pulling K-9’s special use permit, said Isle of Wight County spokesman Don Robertson.

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“There seems to be evidence of ongoing violations for some time. They’ve put themselves in a really bad place,” Robertson said. 

The county’s order said violations could also result in criminal or civil charges. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

K-9 owner Paul Roushia said in a phone interview Friday that he would comply with the order until the issue is sorted out.

Earlier in the week, Roushia said his company has been working with Dominion Protection Group for months. He explained the shooting range as fitting under the seventh condition of the special use permit that states, “The property shall be used as a training facility for dog teams (dogs and handlers) for military, commercial and public security purposes.”

Roushia said the public safety part allowed for the shooting range and it was necessary to acclimate the dogs to the noise.

“We’re following everything to the letter,” he said.

“It (the special use permit) is open to interpretation.”

The recent application for a conditional use permit was to allow for a public shooting range.

Residents who live near the property found online advertisements, including one on Craig’s List, for a concealed carry class on May 21 — days before the public hearing. Classes were geared at novice and experienced shooters. There was evidence of classes being offered prior to that at K-9’s address.

Roushia said Dominion Protection Group is K-9’s client but how they get their customers is their business.

“I don’t get into that action,” he said, and denied that the range was open to the public and was instead being used for dog training.

Videos posted on various social media sites show shooters lying on the ground shooting up at targets, and bullets going over the earthen berms constructed prior to the public hearing. No dogs are present in the videos.

On one social media site, Dominion Protection Group stated it was moving its firearms training classes to K-9s facility in Carrsville. Another company, Pagan Ridge Tactical, based in Smithfield, had also posted images of the shooting activities.

Meanwhile, the Planning Commission simply makes a recommendation on an application. Final approval of a conditional use permit for a shooting range would be given by the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors.

Roushia said he plans to move forward with the application, which is scheduled to be heard July 21 before the Board of Supervisors.

During the Planning Commission public hearing, nearby residents expressed concern for the noise, safety, increased traffic on a narrow, unmarked country road, negative impact on property values and environmental concerns with regards to lead abatement from spent ammunition.

Delbert O’Meara of Walters said the shooting range wasn’t far from the proposed Beaches to Bluegrass Trail (also known as Rails to Trails) that will one day link the coast of Virginia to the Cumberland Gap.

“I don’t know why we need a firing range to pick people off of that,” O’Meara said.

American K-9 Interdiction was approved in 2009 as a facility to train bomb-sniffing dogs for the military. During the public hearing, Roushia said business has slowed down in the past two years and now they want to open the facility to the public.

During a phone interview, Roushia said they had looked into building an indoor shooting range, but the cost was prohibitive — estimated at $10 million.

Plus, Roushia said they don’t trust the county enough to make that sort of investment.

“This county is anti-small business,” he said.  {/mprestriction}