Licking County News

Council divided on requests to amend gun-discharge zones


The debate on Pataskala's legal firearms-discharge zones continued Dec. 2 when City Council heard the first reading of two ordinances to remove properties from the zones.

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

Hunting and recreational gunfire are permitted in the zones, which mostly are in areas zoned as agricultural and rural residential -- about two-thirds of Pataskala.

The agriculture committee declined Oct. 21 to recommend City Council remove the properties from the zones, but Council voted 4-3 Nov. 18 to draft a motion to amend the zones.

Bryan Lenzo made the motion and he was joined in voting for it by Dan Hayes, Merissa McKinstry and Pat Sagar.

The members on the agriculture committee -- Bernard Brush, Mike Compton and Mike Fox -- voted against it.

On Dec. 2, Fouras reiterated her concerns about retaining her property rights. She also said she would take further action, by referendum, to have her property removed from the firearms-discharge zone if City Council does not approve the ordinance.

Also at the meeting, Steven Dunham of Havens Corners Road said he has a hunting stand near Fouras' property. He said she retains control of her property and is trying to control neighboring properties by requesting her neighbors remove tree stands from their land.

Ron Zaleski of Cable Road said the city should not create new laws and waste time and money on the issue when property owners can post signs prohibiting hunting or trespassing.

Jim Helfrich of Pataskala encouraged City Council to follow the agriculture committee's recommendation not to remove the properties.

Brush said if City Council approves both ordinances, city officials could question the standards used to determine which properties remain in the firearms-discharge zones.

He said the agriculture committee did not have full evidence that Fouras could speak for the trust and did not have proof of her numerous complaints to authorities about trespassing and hunting on her land.

Brush also reminded City Council that keeping the legal discharge zones in place was a condition when the city was created by the merger of Lima Township and the village of Pataskala in 1995.

Lenzo, however, said the city should make the discharge-zone map consistent with property owners' wishes.

City Council is expected to hear a second reading of both ordinances Dec. 16.

City Council hears three readings of every ordinance before approval, unless readings are waived.