Illinois Shooting Ranges Permissible Under Definition of Private Recreation in Zoning Code
In Platform I Shore, LLC v. Village of Lincolnwood, 2014 IL App (1st) 133923, the First District Appellate Court held that a shooting range was a permitted use under the plain and unambiguous language of the Village's zoning ordinance. This case illustrates that regardless of whether a particular activity is unpopular, zoning officials must act in a reasonable and non-arbitrary manner when ruling upon zoning applications.
Platform I Shore, LLC leased the second floor of a commercial building with the intent to operate a shooting range above an existing firearms dealership. The plaintiff's property was located in the B-2 zoning district. One of the permitted uses of a B-2 zone property was for a "health club or private recreation facility." Article 2.02 of the Lincolnwood Zoning Ordinance further defined the phrase "health club or private recreation" to include a building designed for sports, exercise, leisure time activities, or other customary and usual recreational activities.
The Zoning Officer denied the plaintiff's application for the operation of a firearms shooting range, contending that a shooting range did not fall within the "health club or private recreation" permitted use. The zoning officer further concluded that the zoning ordinance had been amended since the application to address shooting ranges. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the zoning ordinance in effect at the time of their application unambiguously provided that a shooting range was permissible under the "health club or private recreation" permitted-use provision.
The First District Appellate Court held that the plain language of the Lincolnwood Zoning Ordinance was unambiguous. The court noted that it was undisputed that the plaintiff's property was located in the B-2 zoning district and that a proposed shooting range fell within the broad language used in the ordinance, namely "recreation." Shooting ranges for rifle shooting and target practice have been held to constitute a recreational activity. Furthermore, target shooting is considered a sport because it is an Olympic sporting event and a recognized sporting activity within the national college associations.