Panel splits indoor shooting range rules into home, commercial

SALEM – Regulations for proposed indoor shooting ranges will be split two ways, with separate ordinances requested for commercial and private residential.

The Rules and Ordinances Committee of city council voted unanimously Thursday to forward the regulations to city Law Director Brooke Zellers to form two ordinances for council’s consideration.

Committee member Councilman Rick Drummond said the direction was confirmed after members of the Committee of the Whole indicated earlier this week they wouldn’t object to separating the two types of ranges so they can decide on them separately.

The Rules and Ordinances Committee had decided at its last meeting to separate the two, based on the thinking that more council members favored the commercial and they didn’t want to see that idea get tossed based solely on someone’s dissatisfaction with the idea of a private residential indoor shooting range.

The committee has been discussing the idea of indoor shooting ranges since last summer, debating over the inclusion of residential and talking about safety concerns, the noise, the smell and location restrictions. Drummond had 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.

He suggested allowing for commercial ventures that could bring people to Salem to spend their money.

The proposal restricts indoor shooting ranges from being located within 100 yards of a school, day care, church or playground and sets up stringent design standards for construction, requiring any indoor shooting range to conform to standards set in The Range Source Book by the National Rifle Association. Plans must be prepared by a professional engineer or architect licensed by the state of Ohio.

The proposed specifications spell out the type of backstops and bullet traps required, the thickness of the walls, how baffles, deflectors and shields should be placed, how walls, ceilings and floors should be built to be impenetrable and how to build shooting booths and target carriers. The rules also address sound control, ventilation and filtering systems and permit requirements. Drummond said he had several range builders review his proposal and they couldn’t see a way that a bullet would leave a range based on the construction requirements.

Private residential facilities must be below ground and follow the same stringent guidelines as their commercial counterparts.

The proposal suggested a fee of $50 for a permit for either type of indoor shooting range, but Planning and Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey suggested a line be added that the applicant be responsible for any additional costs the city may incur related to inspections of such facilities. He said the city doesn’t have anyone qualified to make those inspections due to the expertise required and may have to rely on an expert.

In other business, the committee members reviewed a proposal put together by committee Chair Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey regarding a monitoring program related to drilling and disposal of any oil and gas wastes in the city. She explained the proposal would require the submission of background information of key employees, public notification of any spills and imposition of a monitoring fee to cover the costs of monitoring and any damages that may occur in the city related to the operation. Half the fee will be held in escrow and returned if no damages occur.

Drummond raised an issue with a section which required a fee of 5 cents per barrel for each substance delivered to a well to be injected. He said he could understand charging a fee for something to ensure nothing detrimental happens in the city, but thought the per barrel fee was like taxing operating costs.

Dickey explained that it’s not necessarily part of what a company may be producing. Drummond questioned if that meant the city was in favor of letting them inject liquid from anywhere, with committee member Councilman Clyde Brown chiming in, “we don’t want anybody else’s stuff.”

“This is all for us to decide,” Dickey said.

The committee members agreed to review the proposal further and consult with the law director, also.

The proposal will be discussed again during a meeting of the Rules and Ordinances Committee at 6:30 p.m. April 22. Another topic to be discussed will be certificates of occupancy.