During the March 22 Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting, business owners Kim and Paul Koehler of Koehler Brothers Collision on Lappawinzo Road expressed noise and safety concerns stemming from a new plinking range at the Lappawinzo Fish & Game Club.
Koehler said she hears rapid-fire coming from the gun range throughout the day. A neighbor, who prepared a statement read by Koehler, added that the neighborhood sounds like a “warzone…[with] multiple semi-automatic weapons being fired at once.”
Koehler was able to take video recordings of the gun range activities, which she offered to play for supervisors. Live ammunition, she said, is also out in the open and accessible to anyone who walks on the property. Ammunition is also flying over the berms at the rear of the property.
“I am not really sure exactly what is going on,” she told the board. “But they say there are police doing trainings back there.”
She said the rapid firing is heard from her business and lasts for hours at a time.
“We are really getting concerned for safety,” she told supervisors. “We are not on 100 acres…this is a residential area.”
She shared bylaws from nearby gun ranges, including Blue Mountain, Point Phillips, and Tri Boro. None allow for automatic weapons or rapid firing, she said.
Township Solicitor Lincoln Treadwell said that regulating private gun clubs can be tricky.
“Private shooting range issues come up all the time,” he said. “[But] it is a Second Amendment issue…From a municipal standpoint, you have to be very, very careful how you regulate.”
However, Treadwell did add that a 1996 ruling from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania does regulate the hours that the Lappawinzo gun range can operate.
Supervisor Gary Behler asked whether the township can reach out to the club and ask them to “modify the bylaws a bit to be a bit more neighborly.”
When asked whether the Koehler family approached the club’s leadership, Paul Koehler said he was asked to turn in his membership card when he complained. An avid hunter and fisherman who married his wife on the property, he can no longer go there.
Other concerns include environmental issues. The club was established as a fish and game protective association. However, Koehler says wetlands have moved, man-made ponds have been created, and over 500 tires currently remain stacked in the parking lot.
Township manager Eileen Eckhart and Treadwell said they will investigate the issue.
Although the Koehlers’ business has been in the location for over 50 years, they say the activities happening at the club are “different” than anything they heard before and warned supervisors that more residents will probably come forward with complaints as time goes on. Several residents have already notified the Pennsylvania DEP.