Stark County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a zoning change and special use permit for a proposed indoor shooting range Thursday.
Dickinson Indoor Ranges LLC owner Edward Dick plans to create a shooting range, with archery range and paintball course, at 3650 116th Ave. SW, northwest of Patterson Lake.
County Planner Steve Josephson recommended approving the zoning change, saying there's an emerging nonresidential pattern in the area.
"It started back when the railroad loading facility was built near the railyard and when the refinery was built," he said. "You see a pattern after that of properties that have been rezoned to nonresidential."
He added, "That portion of 116th is moving away from what it was before, and more toward a nonresidential corridor."
Josephson also recommended approving the conditional use permit for the indoor firing range and its associated uses.
Commission member Sandra Kuntz said she received some concerns about outdoor activities, security and general noise.
Indoor ranges must meet a "tremendous amount" of requirements to operate, Mayor Scott Decker noted, including ventilation, security and soundproofing.
"We have a shooting range in town at the (law enforcement center). Has anyone ever complained about the noise from the shooting?" he said. "The armory used to have a range. Nobody hears it. There has to be a certain amount of soundproofing. Everything has to be to code."
"And bullets will not fly out through the walls. That doesn't happen either," he added.
Outdoor activities would cease at 10 p.m., with the end of the range's business hours, Josephson said.
Paul Kessel, neighboring proprety owner, argued against having a firing range near residences.
"My son and his family and our grandchildren live right there," he said. "We're big advocates of hunting and it's part of our heritage here ... But, I really can't believe the lack of wisdom to propose building a rifle range 100 feet from my house."
He added, "It just isn't appropriate to build that close to my home and my children's home."
To alleviate those concerns, Dick offered to construct an 8-foot high concrete wall at their property line. He also explained that between the shooting range and Kessel's property would be the building for the archery range.
Josephson said such concerns and conditions had been discussed and included in the permit application before bringing it to the commission.
"When I first spoke to the applicant, he did offer that no buildings would be located within 100 feet of his southern property line," he said.
County Commissioner Carla Arthaud voiced support for the project. "I think this will be great for the community," she said. "I just want to make sure all the homes around it get their questions answered so that everyone's on board and we can start this thing positive."
The zoning change and special use permit will next go to Stark County commissioners for action at their monthly meeting Tuesday, July 2 at 8 a.m., at the Stark County Courthouse.