By Tom Tolen /

An equestrian center owner in Northfield Twp. is one of several neighbors concerned about plans for a gun range which would be located about 500 feet away, or virtually next door.

Leapers, Inc., a firearms testing company based in Livonia, is intent on opening a facility on Seven Mile Road which would be used to research and test optics systems for firearms.

At a June 15th Township Planning Commission meeting, the planning board approved the site plan for the facility despite the concerns of many residents, most of whom opposed the plan on the basis of the noise it would generate. The owner of the nearby Oasis Equestrian Center, Todd Brown, says he has already lost customers who are worried about the noise at the planned gun range and its effect on the horses. Other nearby residents expressed fears that the facility would have a negative impact on their property values.

Joseph Phillips, in representing Leapers Farms, says in order to meet the concerns of residents, many safety and noise reduction features will be added, such as berms, sand and a greenbelt zone. He adds that the walls and shed will have soundproofing installed.

The application was submitted under the township’s AR Agriculture District, which allows private gun clubs, contingent on compliance with certain conditions. These include conformity with the township’s noise ordinance, restricting ammunition to less than 50 caliber, limiting hours to three weekdays and operating only from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Although the Planning Commission approved the site plan, it still must go before the Township Board of Trustees for final approval. The Township Board meets next Tuesday, June 28th, at the Northfield Township Public Safety Building at 8350 Main St. in Whitmore Lake, at 7 p.m.