Pataskala City Council voted 4-3 Monday, Nov. 18, to consider taking two properties out of the city's firearms discharge zone.

Pataskala City Council voted 4-3 Monday, Nov. 18, to consider taking two properties out of the city's firearms discharge zone.

Councilman Bryan Lenzo made the motion to have staff prepare an ordinance that would remove two properties from the firearms discharge zone.

His motion passed with Pat Sagar, Merissa McKinstry and Dan Hayes joining him by voting for the measure.

City councilmen who are members of the city's agriculture committee -- Mike Compton, Mike Fox and Bernard Brush -- voted against the motion.

Council is expected to consider an ordinance amending the discharge zone boundaries at a future meeting.

The firearms discharge zone permits hunting and recreational shooting in areas of Pataskala that are zoned agricultural and rural residential -- about two-thirds of the city.

The requests to have lands removed from the zone were made by Evangeline Fouras, who is part of a trust that owns 175 acres northeast of Summit and Cable roads, and Licking Heights Superintendent Phillip Wagner.

The school district has 41 acres -- which include one-half of the football stadium and one baseball field -- in the discharge zone.

The agriculture committee considered the requests to have both properties removed from the discharge zone in October. The committee declined Oct. 21 to recommend City Council change the discharge zone boundaries to remove the properties.

Fouras and Wagner spoke to City Council Nov. 18 and requested the properties be taken out of the discharge zone.

Fouras said keeping her land in the discharge zone violates her property rights. She said if the land is taken out of the discharge zone, it will provide her with another legal option to keep people from shooting on her land.

She has shown City Council members photos of bullet holes in trees on her property.

Wagner, who brought six high school students to the meeting with him, said the city has done much to improve school safety by installing sidewalks along Summit Road.

He said taking the rest of the school land out of the discharge zone is another safety issue which eliminates any confusion over where people can shoot.

He said he also supports Fouras' request because her land is close to where the high school band practices.

Fox, Brush and Compton said other laws govern trespassing, weapons discharge and hunting on those properties.

Donald Lewis of McIntosh Road also spoke to Council about the issue.

He said state wildlife laws are clear that people can only hunt on property they do not own if they have written permission from the landowner.

He said the state already has penalties in place for hunting violations and he cautioned City Council against randomly removing properties from the discharge zone.

He said changing the boundaries could make it more difficult for the Pataskala Division of Police to enforce the laws.

Hayes, City Council president, said if the state considers school property to be a weapons-free zone, the city should change its map to concur.

Fox said he thinks the city already has excluded all school property from the discharge zone although he hasn't been able to find documentation to prove it.

He said the discharge zone was never meant to prevent trespassing and is not taking property rights away from people.

"The discharge zone was not intended to keep people off of land," he said. "It gives people the right to do what they want on their property. It was not intended to be used as a tool to keep people off properties."

Lenzo countered, saying the city is not giving property owners a choice.

"If a private-property owner wants to be in a non-discharge zone, who are we to tell her what can happen on her property?" he asked.

Compton said he is disappointed the issue seems to be "spinning out of control" and said if City Council studies the issue, it needs more information about the properties.

Brush agreed and said the city needs documentation showing Fouras can speak for the trust that owns the property she wants taken out of the discharge zone.

He also said the agriculture committee could not substantiate any of Fouras' claims of hunting on her property and of people purposely shooting into her land.

Council Sept. 16 amended the firearms ordinance to disallow shooting between dusk and dawn and included language to prevent shooting from becoming a nuisance or an unreasonable disturbance to neighbors.