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Pierce County shut down an unlicensed gun range on the Key Peninsula after neighbors complained about shooting over the Labor Day weekend.
The range, called KP Compound, was operating on a rural property located at 1320 205th Avenue SW KPN, near Lakebay. It is in a rural zone that does now allow such activity, county officials said.
“The shooting is adjacent to the road and there’s a school bus stop there,” said County Council member Derek Young. “There is concern for a small margin of error that could be disastrous.”
The property owner, Morgan Dayhoff, said she will comply with a cease-and-desist order issued by the county.
She said it was all a misunderstanding, resulting from her misreading of county zoning regulations. Dayhoff said she read the zoning code for the Gig Harbor Peninsula instead of the Key Peninsula.
“Since half of the Key Peninsula contains a Gig Harbor zip code, I would hope the mistake is understandable,” said Dayhoff, who works as a property manager for a Tacoma company.
She said the range was safely operated by experienced military veterans. A house in the property is occupied by renters, she said, who knew about the shooting activity but were not involved in it.
Under county codes, a gun range is considered an “amusement or recreation” activity, and it is not allowed in areas zoned single-family residential.
Pierce County has not received a permit application and staff did not grant approval for use of a gun range at this site, Young said.
“There is nothing wrong with gun ranges in general,” Young said. “It’s a valid use and well-liked by recreational target shooters, hunters and even our law enforcement. We aren’t saying no to gun ranges, but the zoning is clear. It’s not a permitted use in that zone.”
KP Compound received a cease-and-desist order on September 6 from Pierce County, but Young said he received information that shooting continued.
“They need to stop operations, it’s not allowed,” He said. “There is no gray area here.”
In an email to the Gateway on Wednesday, Dayhoff asserted that the continued shooting came from neighbors, not from her property.
“We haven’t shot a single time since we closed early on Monday.,” she said.
Dayhoff told the Gateway on Tuesday that she plans to reorganize as a private gun club, and she is looking for a property that will allow that. For now, she said, there will be no more shooting.
Young said property owners are allowed to propose a change in the zoning code to the county, though there is no guarantee this would allow their operations to continue. They have 14 days to appeal the cease-and-desist order to a judge, but Young said the zoning code is very clear that KP Compound’s current operations are, at this time, illegal.
“In rural areas there is a desire to limit commercial activity, aiming to reduce impacts such as high volumes of traffic, resulting in these zoning limitations,” Young said.
He said the range is not only not in compliance with the zoning codes, but is set up in a way that does not meet basic safety codes.
“Even if this was legally permitted in the zone, they would need to make significant permits to make this safe,” Young said.