VALDOSTA — A crowd packed county commission chambers Tuesday to oppose a zone change that would allow for a privately-owned outdoor recreation facility.
After hearing from multiple nearby residents and the property owner about an airsoft field being built at 3435 Bemiss Knights Academy Road, the county approved the zone change four to one, with Commissioner Joyce Evans voting against.
During the meeting, Adam Khail told the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners that about 150 people signed a petition against the zone change for the 14 acres located inside a larger 36 acre property.
Khail said he and the people who signed the petition live in Crestwood Subdivision, which they believe would be negatively impacted by a recreation facility situated next to the neighborhood.
Plans call for an airsoft field, where participants would bring airsoft guns onto the field for recreational sport.
Khail and two other speakers opposing the project said the field would lower property values, cause environmental damage and cause stress to the military community that lives at Crestwood.
The applicant for the zone change followed his unhappy neighbors and spoke to the board to support his request.
Joshua Knudson is the owner of the property and told the board he could build the airsoft field without changing the zoning, but wanted the zone change to build a parking lot for the facility.
Knudson said the field would be safe and surrounded by a tall fence that would catch all pellets fired from the airsoft guns.
There would also be a single way in or out of the field, preventing children or anyone else from sneaking into the field while active shooting is taking place.
He said all guns would be required to be in a bag while outside of the field, and the pellets are environmentally friendly and will decay after about six months.
County staff said there were also some residents near the property who submitted a petition in favor of the request, but most of the crowd on Tuesday seemed to be there in opposition, and no other person spoke in favor of the request during the meeting.
Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256