MUNROE FALLS: The city’s law director is proposing a moratorium on the use of the police firing range after the city received notice that a resident intends to take legal action against all agencies that use the Main Street facility.

In an email to City Council on Friday, Munroe Falls Law Director Tom Kostoff said the city received a letter on June 19 notifying them that city resident Thomas Shubert intended to file suit against the city and other municipalities that use the outdoor firing range for alleged violations of state and federal environmental laws. The letter was sent by Andrew J. Karas, Shubert’s attorney.

Karas wrote that Shubert intends to file a citizen suit against Munroe Falls, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow and Tallmadge, and the village of Silver Lake, as well as each of those entities’ police departments “unless appropriate action is taken to ensure that the operation of the firing range facility adheres to the contributing parties’ obligations under [the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act], the Clean Water Act, and the Ohio Solid Waste Management Law.”

Karas explained Monday that Shubert wants the cities involved to stop using the firing range and to “conduct ... an environmentally sufficient assessment to gauge the nature and extent of the [alleged] contamination of the ground, of the groundwater, and of the adjacent [Cuyahoga] River, to gauge what sort of remediation is likely to be necessary.”

As a result of Karas’ letter, Kostoff has proposed that police departments stop using the range temporarily.

“I have recommended that there be a moratorium on the use of the firing range by the City of Munroe Falls Police Department and all other municipal users until we have investigated this matter,” Kostoff wrote in his email to council members. “Additionally, I have spoken with outside counsel since this would be a specialized environmental law matter.”

Mayor James Armstrong said Monday that he was “inclined to follow Law Director Kostoff’s advice regarding the moratorium on the range until we have an opportunity to garner further information about the letter.” He added that the range is not scheduled to be used again until mid-July.

Armstrong said officials have been trying to address residents’ complaints about noise from the range.

The range is also used by the Cuyahoga Falls, Silver Lake, Stow and Tallmadge police departments. All of those municipalities’ police chiefs and law directors received copies of Karas’ letter, according to an appendix on the letter.

In the letter, Karas, who is with Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, wrote that the departments in their firearms training sessions discharge lead shot “into earthen berms, backstops, embankments, and/or into the ground.” Karas claimed these actions result “in the contamination of soil and the leaching of lead into groundwater and the adjacent Cuyahoga River.”

Karas then claimed in his letter that “No efforts are undertaken by those persons using the range to retrieve spent lead shot or manage particulate lead matter, nor have any remedial cleanup efforts occurred in the decades-long span the site has been used for firearms training.”

Karas wrote that these actions violate the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Water Act and Ohio’s solid waste management laws, and noted that an investigation into the alleged violations and similar ones are ongoing.

Shubert would be seeking “declaratory and injunctive relief, costs and attorneys’ fees, any applicable civil penalties, and any other appropriate relief,” Karas wrote.