Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Pasco

Pasco can’t require permit for Vizzi family’s skeet shooting range, judge rules

Family of Olympic hopeful Dania Vizzi wins judgment over county land development rules.
Times
Dania Vizzi, of Odessa, stands for a portrait on the skeet range at Silver Dollar Shooters Club in Odessa. An Olympic hopeful, she won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan-American games.
Times Dania Vizzi, of Odessa, stands for a portrait on the skeet range at Silver Dollar Shooters Club in Odessa. An Olympic hopeful, she won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan-American games. [ TIMES | (2017) ]
Published Sep. 22

A judge has ruled that the Vizzi family was right on target with their claim that Pasco County could not require a special permit for the shooting range they created on their Darby property for their daughter, a champion in skeet shooting with plans to compete in the Olympics.

Citing the state law that prevents local governments from regulating firearms, County Judge Kent Compton ruled earlier this month that the law “precludes Pasco County from requiring the Vizzis obtain a conditional use permit as a condition precedent to constructing or operating their skeet field.”

Dania Vizzi, of Odessa, practices on the skeet range at Silver Dollar Shooters Club in Odessa, Fla. on Friday, June 30, 2017. An Olympic hopeful, she won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan-American games.
Dania Vizzi, of Odessa, practices on the skeet range at Silver Dollar Shooters Club in Odessa, Fla. on Friday, June 30, 2017. An Olympic hopeful, she won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan-American games.

The judge retained jurisdiction to rule later on another portion of the dispute, on whether the Vizzis were required to have building permits before they constructed trap houses on their property. Trap houses are used for storage and to launch clay pigeons for target practice.

“We are happy with the outcome and believe that this could have been avoided if Pasco County would have been reasonable,” Arthur Vizzi said after the judgment. He said he had tried to talk to county officials early in the discussion to argue that the skeet range was not commercial and was not run like a business. He was also turned down when he sought help from the county in seeking a state attorney general’s opinion on the validity of their claim.

The family had agreed to seek a conditional use permit after being cited by code enforcement and negotiated over issues such as shooting days and durations, but walked away from that option at the last minute after county staff placed a series of new and unacceptable rules on the permit, he said.

“Right before the hearing, they added conditions that were unreasonable and unattainable as it would have cost us well over a million dollars to comply. So we pulled our application,” Vizzi said. “Within weeks, they sent a demand letter to tear our field down or face fines so here we are.”

His 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 hopeful and bronze medalist at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

“My daughter plans to start her training regimen to get ready for the 2024 Olympics,” Vizzi said.

Last year, she told the Tampa Bay Times that she has trained six days a week by firing 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 installed the trap houses. The county cited them Nov. 1, 2018, for developing the site without permission, but the Vizzis were allowed to continue using the range since they had applied for the permit.

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

The Pasco County attorney’s office declined to comment on the judgment, noting that the period to appeal the decision was still open.