City planning board sends shooting range rules back to council

An ordinance to establish and regulate residential indoor shooting ranges will come back to council with a couple of minor changes recommended by city Planning Commission members.

The commission voted to approve the amendments Monday as suggested by city Planning & Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey and send the ordinance back to council. City council has already held two readings of the ordinance, along with three other ordinances related to indoor shooting ranges, including one to establish commercial indoor shooting ranges.

The Rules and Ordinances Committee of city council has been discussing the idea of the indoor shooting ranges since last June. Besides the two ordinances to create the shooting ranges, there’s a proposed ordinance noting the rule against the discharge of weapons in the city won’t apply to indoor shooting ranges. There’s also a proposed ordinance to allow an indoor shooting range as a permitted use in a commercial zone.

The proposed rules explain the specifications for building an indoor shooting range, referring to standards set in The Range Source Book by the National Rifle Association, with sections dealing with containment, sound control, ventilation, filtering systems and permit requirement. Private residential shooting ranges will have the same rules in addition to being permitted only below ground.

Under permit requirements, Morrissey suggested that plan reviews be included in a section requiring the applicant to be responsible for any costs to the city to conduct inspections at the completion of the construction, modification or restoration of an indoor shooting range.

He explained that some of the technical aspects of the construction requirements may require the expertise of a technical person. The applicant should have to pay the cost of a plan review.

The document submitted to the commission also had the applicant appealing the denial, revocation or suspension of a permit to the city service/safety director, but Morrissey said the process of appeal for a decision is normally taken to the city Board of Zoning Appeals. He asked that the wording be changed to reflect that, for any appeal to go to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The commission voted favorably for both changes. They also agreed to include a suggestion for council to make the same changes in the ordinance for the creation of commercial indoor shooting ranges. That ordinance didn’t have to come before the Planning Commission.

“That would make consistency with the two ordinances,” Morrissey said.

The commission was also scheduled to take action on making a commercial indoor shooting range an approved use in the C1 commercial zoning district, which means they’ll be permitted in all commercial districts, but the item on the agenda was overlooked and no action was taken.

According to city zoning rules, if the commission takes no action within 60 days of receiving an ordinance for review from council, the ordinance is considered recommended by the commission.

After the meeting when the situation was discovered, Chairman John Panezott decided to just let it take effect with no action rather than call another meeting. Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey, who chairs the Rules & Ordinances Committee, was present and had no problem with the commission action or the chairman’s decision.