Indoor gun range fires ahead

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

After being approved by the Local Planning Agency (LPA) in September, the proposal and ordinance change that would allow a local business to open an indoor gun range on South Water Street was placed on the desk of the Monticello City Council for final approval this week.
For the past few months, there has been plenty of discussion around the indoor gun range that was proposed by local gunsmith, Robinson Gunworks.
The idea was first birthed in early September, when Mike Robinson of Robinson Gunworks went before the city council on Tuesday, Sept. 3, to request that he be allowed to convert a vacant building on South Water Street into an indoor gun range.
The Water Street property (located just south of the Tiger sports complex) has had many different lives – as the building has served as the Jefferson County School District's bus barn and an auto repair shop as well as an awning manufacturing operation before becoming a vacant lot.
The building had been previously rezoned into a light industry and limited-use district, which allowed for some industrial manufacturing, packaging and assembly – but when Robinson presented his hopes with the city council, he was informed that his concept of an indoor gun range did not fit into the zone uses.
At that first meeting between Robinson and the city council, Robinson was informed by City Attorney Bruce Leinback that the city did not currently have any ordinances that regulated gun ranges.
Robinson was encouraged to submit a formal application to the LPA, which would in turn make a recommendation to the Monticello City Council, based on their evaluations of Robinson's plan.
At a public meeting of the LPA on Tuesday, Sept. 24, it took barely 20 minutes for the local planners to review and recommend Robinson's indoor gun range plan for approval. However, in order for city council members to approve the gun range plan, the limited-use zoning district would have to be modified through city ordinance.
In order for Robinson's planned gun range to be allowed into the vacant building, the ordinance would have to specify that an “enclosed (indoor) non-public, sound-suppressed, lead-free shooting range for education, training, firearms testing and members-only sport shooting use” would also be allowed in the limited-use district.
The LPA also suggested that the city council specify that the gun range must conform to current National Rifle Association (NRA) gun safety and indoor shooting range standards.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, Robinson also addressed concerns regarding the gun range's close proximity to the Teen Center, spots complex and library – as well as several private residences that were located on the street.
“We can shut down for the day if the Teen Center has an event,” said Robinson, remaining amenable to also working with neighbors. “We're trying to work with the community.”
Robinson informed the planners that the walls would be insulated with multiple foam layers (to prevent sound pollution), and only lead-free ammunition would be allowed.
During the meeting, LPA Chairman Rick Anderson noted that Monticello City Hall had received numerous emails from citizens, all who spoke in favor of the planned gun range.
With the range receiving approval from the LPA, it moved onto the desks of the Monticello City Council.
Following statue, the ordinance change that would allow the gun range to move into the 705 S. Water St. address would have to undergo two public hearings – the first of which took place on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and the second on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The November public hearing, which was the last of the city council's hearing, barely stirred up any discussion as the city council members unanimously approved the ordinance change – therefore welcoming the gun range onto South Water Street.
Directly following the final public hearing, Robinson Gunworks took to Facebook to thank all those who had supported the gun range venture.
In addition to the soon-to-be-opening gun range, Robinson Gunworks plans to move their complete firearm manufacturing, refinishing and repair shop to the 705 S. Water St. address.
Repairs and upgrades on the formerly vacant building have already began, and Robinson Gunworks plans to host an open house at their new location in the upcoming weeks.