Dunton's airstrip plans have neighbors riled up
KINGMAN - Scott Dunton made friends with the Veterans Sportsman Alliance when he took a disabled veteran hunting on his ranch in May, but he's not making friends with his neighbors.
He wants to activate an airstrip on the ranch about 40 miles east of Kingman and accommodate hunters as a commercial enterprise.
That idea doesn't fly with nearby residents who are worried that their ranch-style living will be disrupted. They spoke in opposition to the plan at the July 20 Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The item was not on the regular agenda, but was brought before the board by Supervisors Jean Bishop and Gary Watson, who had taken calls from concerned citizens in the area.
Neighbor Dominique Davis signed a petition about Dunton not having proper permits to operate the airstrip and not following federal regulations.
"I don't know if my property is in the direct flight path. I don't know if it's a big deal," she said. "Is it a commercial business? He has no permit to house hunters and provide food for them."
Davis said she was also concerned about gunfire safety in the free-grazing area between Interstate 40 and her property.
Supervisors directed County Administrator Mike Hendrix to look into possible violations, though none has currently been documented.
"The county issued a use permit in 2000 or 2001 and I understand it is still considered valid because the strip has never been abandoned," Bishop told the Daily Miner.
The private 4,900-foot airstrip, built by TransWestern pipeline in the 1960s, is in disrepair, Dunton told the board. He plans to repair any damage.
Rancher Mike Shannon said his property is within 300 feet of the airstrip, which has been restricted to FAA emergency use and ranch activity. He's seen one emergency landing there in nine years by a couple from Truckee, Calif.
"He wants to charge $700 a person to fly them into Dunton Ranch and go hunting," Shannon said. "It's not zoned for commercial and recreation. It's zoned agriculture and residential."
Dunton said he has no plans on charging $700 to hunt on his ranch. His plan is to accommodate friends and disabled veterans.
Toni Forgey Schmitt lives near the airstrip and wants to start a goat dairy. Noise pollution from airplanes using the strip would increase abortion risk in her goats and pose a risk to dairy production, she told the board.
Dunton, who has owned the ranch since 1997, would have none of the goat talk. He laid into Schmitt and her husband, Shaun, who used to shoe Dunton's horses.
"This guy's burning tires in his truck and raising hell in the neighborhood. He's not a bad guy, but they've got some kind of vendetta against us," Dunton said.
Dunton said all of his fence posts have been torn out and his "No Trespassing" signs are gone. He also revealed a current relationship between his son, Scotty, and one of the Schmitt's in-laws.
"They're constantly trying to turn us into the county," Dunton said. "We'd just like to be good neighbors with these folks and request they mind their own business and leave us alone."
Charles Brown was invited by Dunton to camp on the ranch last year and said a private property owner claimed Brown was on his land and threatened him.
"I started hunting at Fort Rock with my dad when I was 5 or 6, and the gentleman there threatened to shoot us if we came close to his property," Brown said. "I told him I'm a veteran. I've been shot at before and I know how to handle people shooting at me."
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