Shooting range options sent to council

City council will have to decide whether to allow indoor shooting ranges for both commercial and residential or restrict the indoor shooting to just commercial ventures.

Those are the two choices the Rules & Ordinances Committee voted Tuesday to recommend for council’s consideration after two separate motions were made, seconded and approved by 2-1 votes.

Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey made the first motion to send council a draft proposal for commercial indoor shooting ranges, with residential indoor shooting ranges omitted from the document. Councilman Clyde Brown seconded the motion and voted in favor of the proposal with Dickey also voting yes. Committee Chair Councilman Rick Drummond voted against the proposal.

Drummond then made a motion to forward a proposal to council which includes both commercial and residential indoor shooting ranges, which he said would give the full council the chance to debate both sides of the issue. Brown seconded the motion and voted in favor along with Drummond. Dickey voted against the motion.

“I’m not going to support an indoor range in residential in the city,” she said.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee has discussed the issue at multiple meetings, talking about safety concerns, the noise, the smell and location restrictions. Drummond said he received a request from a resident to have the ordinance changed regarding the discharge of weapons in the city to allow a private indoor shooting range in a residential area.

Brown had asked how many people had come to Drummond and commented “we’re addressing this for one individual?”

Drummond, though, said it may have started with a question from one person, but the idea could open up the possibility of another business venture which could bring income to the city through income taxes from employees to users supporting other businesses in town.

He said the key to consider is that a residential shooting range would have to fulfill the same requirement as a commercial range plus be below grade or underground.

The draft proposal that he presented includes both commercial and residential indoor shooting ranges. In both cases, he’s proposing the ranges not be located within 100 yards of a school, daycare, church or playground. The proposal said the facilities must be constructed to contain 100 percent of any projectiles fired within the structure, including ricochets.

According to the proposal, a fully-contained indoor range has a firing platform, bullet trap and baffle system or other ballistic containment system enclosed within a complete building envelope. Floor surfaces should be smooth steel-trowel finished extending from the firing line to the bullet trap and wall surfaces should be reinforced concrete or hardened steel plate of a thickness to prevent penetration by any projectiles fired on the range, the proposal said.

He also wrote that a range must have an indoor filtration system to prevent smell and particulates from leaving the building, must meet state and federal guidelines and must conform to city noise guidelines. Plans for such facilities must be drafted by a professional engineer.

Under the residential rules, all those same suggestions were included, along with a requirement to locate an indoor private residential shooting range completely below ground. Shooters would have to own the property, be an invited guest or have written permission from the property owner.

The proposal restricted residential ranges to RS1, RS1-A, RS2 and RS3 zoned areas. Drummond said the properties in RA and RD are much smaller and probably would not accommodate a shooting range which meets all the specifications.

He said installation of a shooting range would come under a conditional use permit under the Board of Zoning Appeals.

For commercial ventures, he suggested placement in C2, C3, M1, M2 and M3 zoned areas.

City Planning & Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey attended the meeting and said the section regarding a commercial indoor shooting range in commercial or industrial zones was fine.

“Boy, I tell you, that’s scary in a residential area,” he said.

Drummond explained how a residential facility would have to meet the same requirements as a commercial facility and be underground, which would not affect anyone else. He also said the vast majority of residents, himself included, wouldn’t be able to afford to install an indoor residential shooting range that meets all the requirements, but if someone wants to spend their money to do that, they should have the chance.

Morrissey had brought up about possible noise complaints, with Drummond saying this would be no different than if someone put a bowling alley in their house and people could hear the crashing of pins. If the range is built in the way they want one built, no one will hear the noise.

“I still think when you’re talking about residential, you’re asking for trouble,” Morrissey said.

When asked why he wanted the residential included, Drummond said he’s not doing it for one resident. He said it’s not being done to benefit any one person. If done correctly, he said there’s no more danger with a residential shooting range than there would be with a commercial shooting range.

The proposal does not allow outdoor shooting ranges. It only pertains to indoor facilities.