(AP) RALEIGH, N.C. — Shooting ranges and a training center built by former Delta Force members to train police and troops as next-generation warriors doesn’t qualify as a school, a designation local officials accepted in allowing construction, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The decision throws into doubt the training center in rural Cumberland County that security contractor TigerSwan Inc. opened in 2010. Plans included building seven shooting ranges on a 1,000-acre site 18 miles from the Army’s Fort Bragg.
Local zoning rules protecting the land for farming allowed an exception for schools.
Neighboring property owners sued out of concern about stray bullets and gunfire depressing their property values.
Apex-based TigerSwan argued that besides training law officers and troops in urban warfare, heavy weapons, sniping and other military skills, its training center would also instruct adults and children in commonly taught school offerings including leadership, first aid and foreign languages, the court said.
But that stretches the local zoning law’s definition of a school, Judge Robert C. Hunter wrote for the three-judge court panel.
“We conclude that the training facility is not a permitted use as it is not a public or private, elementary or secondary school,” Hunter wrote.
TigerSwan’s attorney, former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker, said the company and Cumberland County are weighing whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court. What will happen to the training center is a question to be decided after legal proceedings have run their course, Meeker said.
TigerSwan was founded in 2005 by former members of Delta Force, the Fort Bragg-based counter-terrorist unit. The company’s website says it has operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and seven affiliate offices in Latin America, Japan and the United Kingdom