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SV looks at gun ranges

SPRING VALLEY — Members of the Spring Valley Legislative Committee were finally able to confirm a plan of action to get zoning laws and an ordinance written for two proposed gun ranges ... but it wasn’t easy.

“I feel like I am running around a tree,” city attorney Tom Tonozzi said.

The city has two businesses seeking to open gun ranges within the city limits, but the city must change the zoning laws to allow for the ranges and develop an ordinance regulating what must be done as far as building and safety. Members of both the planning commission and the zoning board were in the audience to help discuss the procedure.

“We don’t see this as that big of a deal,” planning commission chairman George Forsa said.

The first order of business was the city zoning laws needed to be changed so that gun ranges are allowed in C1, C2, C4 and M1 zoning designations. What was less clear was if the city needed to adopt an ordinance for the regulations of the gun ranges such as building materials, sound levels, etc. or if that could be done with simply a special use permit.

The primary concern was what could be done if the business did not comply with the regulations.

“I can’t enforce a special use permit,” Spring Valley Police Chief Kevin Sangston said.

Violations of an ordinance are enforceable by the police department, but special use permit violations are only open to civil lawsuits. The decision was made the city needed an ordinance for the regulations and a special use permit for the business, but confusion erupted trying to decide when and how to go about it.

The business wants to get started as soon as possible, so the city attorney wanted to streamline the process by having the planning commission and the zoning board meet on the same night. Members of the commission and the zoning board worried that it would be a very time intensive night, and it would be confusing to have both on the same night.

The committee members finally decided on a plan of action. First, the city would refer the zoning change to the zoning board, and they would give their recommendation to the city council. With the zoning changed, the business must file a special use permit petition with the city, and that would be referred to the planning commission.

The planning commission would have a meeting where people for and against the ranges could share their concerns, and the developers could answer questions from the board. At this meeting, the board would recommend the city adopt an ordinance setting various regulations for the gun range and then forward their recommendation to the board for a vote.

The whole process will likely take at least a month with the planning commission having its meeting sometime in mid-December.

“Let’s build us some shooting ranges,” gun range developer Craig Parson said.

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