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Neighbors of gun range 'duck for cover when bullets fly at homes'

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Columbia County, GA (WFXG) -

Bullet holes scar nearly every trailer home behind the Newmantown Gun Club's gun range.

One man we spoke with is worried about his safety and asked not to be identified.

"There have been occasions when I've walked out into my backyard and bullets were flying in the air. One time a bullet hit within 20 feet of me and my cousin. It's a dangerous situation," he said.

His home sits behind the gun range that's outside of Grovetown on Newmantown Road.

"He's got a big barrier down there but at one time he was shooting metal, reactive targets but apparently there were bullet fragments flying around and ricocheting off the targets," he said pointing to a tall dirt berm hidden in the trees near the property line.

The gun club's property is zoned for residential and agricultural use. But Columbia County officials decided the land was being used commercially as a gun range and issued a "cease and desist" order.

Club members aren't shooting on the property now but Paul Blankenship, the property owner, and his family members are.

Blankenship wasn't available for comment. His lawyer Judge James Overstreet Jr. says the Newmantown Gun Club has a safe gun range and he says Blankenship is allowed to shoot on his own property.

Overstreet says they've appealed the zoning ruling and have filed an application for zoning change so members can shoot again.

Ronald Fairburn lives next to the gun range. He says he doesn't understand why some of his neighbors are up in arms because it doesn't bother him.

"I'm treated for PTSD through the VA and if it doesn't bother me I just don't see how it bothers everybody else," Fairburn, said.

The man who asked to remain anonymous says he isn't just bothered, he's scared every time he hears gunfire because he never knows where the bullets will stop.

"I heard bullets zinging over the top of my house and then one hit. The berm he has built isn't stopping the bullets and it is endangering people throughout the neighborhood; it's not safe."

A landowner near the Newmantown Gun Club says two tenants have left because of the gun range. He says it has caused his property value to decrease to where it's almost worthless.

The Planning Commission will hear the issue again during their November 7 meeting.

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