Pasco can’t demand license for Vizzi family clay pigeon shooting range, judge says

A judge ruled the Vizzi family were right when he said Pasco County could not require a special permit for the shooting range they created on their Darby property for their daughter, a pigeon shooting champion in ‘clay with the intention of participating in the Olympics. .

Citing state law that prevents local governments from regulating firearms, County Judge Kent Compton ruled earlier this month that the law “prevents Pasco County from requiring the Vizzis to obtain a conditional use permit as a prerequisite for the construction or operation of their skeet field ”.

Dania Vizzi, of Odessa, trains on the skeet field at the Silver Dollar Shooters Club in Odessa, Fla. On Friday, June 30, 2017. An Olympic hopeful, she won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan Am Games.

The judge retained jurisdiction to rule later on another part of the litigation, which was whether the Vizzis were required to have building permits before constructing trap houses on their property. Traps are used for storage and for throwing clay pigeons for target practice.

“We are happy with the result and believe it could have been avoided if Pasco County had been reasonable,” said Arthur Vizzi after the judgment. He said he tried to speak to county officials at the start of the discussion to make the point that the skeet line was not commercial and was not run like a business. He was also turned down when he sought the county’s help in getting a state attorney general’s opinion on the validity of their request.

The family had agreed to apply for a conditional use permit after being cited by code enforcement and negotiating on issues such as days and times to shoot, but walked away from that option at the last minute afterward. that county staff have placed a series of unacceptable new rules on the permit, he said.

“Right before the hearing, they added conditions that were unreasonable and unattainable because it would have cost us well over a million dollars to comply. We therefore withdrew our request, ”said Vizzi. “Within weeks, they sent a letter of formal notice to demolish our field or face fines, so here we are. “

Her daughter, Dania Vizzi, 26, lives in Odessa. A member of the U.S. National Shotgun Team, she is a two-time national champion, world champion, Olympic prospect and bronze medalist at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

“My daughter plans to start her training program to prepare for the 2024 Olympics,” Vizzi said.

Last year she told the Tampa Bay Times that she trained six days a week shooting a 12-gauge shotgun at clay pigeons in two-shot increments from 25 locations.

Vizzi’s parents bought 53 acres in Darby in 2018 for $ 549,000 and set the traps. The county cited them on November 1, 2018 for developing the site without permission, but the Vizzis have been allowed to continue using the beach since they applied for the permit.

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Neighbors objected to the shooting range in a public hearing before the Pasco Planning Commission, saying the noise disrupted their quality of life and the flying ammunition posed a security threat. Among the evidence presented was a video on social media showing Dania Vizzi firing an AR-15 rifle at the property.

The Pasco County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the judgment, noting that the deadline to appeal the decision is still open.

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