By Jessica Mathews /

After a recent court ruling, it appears that a lawsuit filed by a Hartland-based firearms store against a local township is moving toward mediation.

The lawsuit was filed in 2018 by Oakland Tactical Supply and three potential users of an outdoor shooting range proposed for 352 acres on Fleming Road in Howell Township. The township board rejected the plan in November of 2017 citing zoning ordinances, which do not allow for open-air businesses such as shooting ranges on agricultural residential land. The company argued it was a violation of their Second Amendment rights.

The suit was dismissed last September and at the time, Martha Dean, an attorney representing Oakland Tactical, told WHMI that they were assessing legal options. A series of appeals followed, which resulted in an order being issued in February denying the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration and for leave to file a third amended complaint.

The order (posted below) states the plaintiffs indicated their third complaint would clarify that they seek to construct and use a long-range outdoor facility, but the court said no such clarification was necessary as the original and subsequent complaints clearly made that allegation. It went on to say the additional allegations the plaintiffs sought to make in their proposed third amended complaint are not simple clarifications but extensive, new assertions that are “plainly a reaction to the court’s explanation for dismissing the second amended complaint”. The order further noted that the plaintiffs offered no explanation as to why the facts were not pled earlier.

The Howell Township Board met virtually Monday night and discussed the order, which records show the plaintiffs are now appealing to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. It was stated that the court has requested case mediation to see if the township and plaintiffs can settle outside of court.

Board members commented that they continue to get complaints about people shooting at the site, but it was noted that shooting is allowed in that zoning. Some further questioned if the plaintiffs are running a business and it was stated nothing that the township knows of or can prove.

Supervisor Mike Coddington said it appears to be more of a recreational use with quite a few people out there on a regular basis, but he noted that really wouldn’t be any different than any board member inviting people over to shoot for short periods of time. He said based on complaints, it sounds like people rotate through so the shooting sounds more continuous and it’s an all-day occurrence on Saturdays and Sundays.

A copy of the most recent court order is attached.