Supervisors claim to have limited power over area hunting codes

New Kent County board concerned after Lanexa home hit by stray bullet

By Amy Jo Martin, amartin@tidewaterreview.com


NEW KENT – The New Kent County Board of Supervisors are concerned about hunting near county residences but claim they have little power to change the code.

"This hunting thing is getting worse. But right now, there is nothing we can do about it," said Supervisor W.R. "Ray" Davis, Jr. Monday night.

The subject was recently brought to the board's attention when a bullet struck the Lanexa home of Tyrone and Selda Johnson on Sertoma Drive.

Selda Johnson was putting up the Christmas tree in the couple's great room on Nov. 30 around 9 a.m. when a bullet came through the top of the wall, above the widow.

When the couple found the bullet, they discovered that it was buckshot.

"The bullet fell four feet from where my wife was sitting," Johnson told Supervisors.

This was the second time the Johnsons' home was hit with a bullet.

Three months prior to this incident, someone target shooting on the same Cooks Mill Road property struck the backside of the Johnsons' residence.

During the same month, a bullet went through another Lanexa home near Cooks Mill Road.

The sheriff's office reported that the bullet, which struck an upstairs spare bedroom, was most likely caused by celebratory fire, or firing into the air.

No one was injured in either incident.

Johnson asked the supervisors to look into changing the county code and making it illegal to hunt 100 yards within a residential or occupied structure without written consent of the occupant, and to consider changing the zoning on Sertoma Drive from A-1 (Agricultural) to R-1 (Residential).

Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VGDIF) Officer Phillip Baker reported that the hunter was 200 yards away when he fired the 00 buckshot with a 12-gauge rifle.

According to County Attorney Michele Gowdy, Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, meaning that all county codes must follow state code. In this case, VDGIF sets the model hunting ordinances.

Also, the hunting within 100 yards of a residence regulation does not apply to A-1 with five or more acres, unless it is heavily populated, she said.

Another resident, Sandra Jefferson, of Cumberland Road in New Kent, also spoke about hunting in the woods behind her home.

"It's scary to sit on your property and hear gunshots," she said. "Especially knowing what happened to the Johnsons."

Despite concerns, supervisors admitted they have little authority over the hunting codes.

"According to our attorney, we don't have the power or any enforcement behind that ordinance," said District 3 Supervisor Jimmy Burrell.

"What we can do is contact the VDGIF and see about creating new model ordinances to ensure our residents' safety," he added.

All requested changes to the 2014 hunting season regulations must be submitted to VDGIF by May 1.

The Review will be following this story as it develops.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.