Indoor Shooting Range: Your Input is Requested

The Mequon planning commission approved an indoor shooting range tonight for the property at 9653 North Granville Road (the Dhaliwal building).  The approval was a “conditional use grant,” meaning that the owner can operate the business under a set of conditions established by ordinance and the planning commission.  The planning commission can also later revoke the approval if the business owner does not satisfy those conditions, or if circumstances in the immediate area dictate that the approval is no longer appropriate.

The facility consists of eight indoor shooting lanes, some classroom space and some offices.  You can read about it by clicking clicking here.

I am not on the planning commission and did not have a vote tonight.  However, I do have the ability to request that the common council review the planning commission decision.  I have to make the request within 14 days.  The common council cannot review the decision unless at least one other alderman also makes the request.

In 2015, before I was on the council, the council debated a similar application for a location on Port Washington Road.  That application would have required a rezoning.  The council denied the rezoning request.  The argument was that Port Washington Road was a bad location because of the number of people there.  In my opinion, that is backward.  The more people in an area, the greater the natural surveillance – more people would be around to keep an eye on what is happening.

Then, in November (again before I was elected), the council changed the zoning code for areas zoned B-5 and B-6 to allow this kind of use as a conditional use (meaning it needed specific planning commission approval).  The city has very limited B-5 and B-6 land.  The ordinance largely limits such a facility to this site or the business park.  Our former alderman, John Leszczynski, voted against the change that allowed this in these zoning districts.

I have mixed feelings about this proposal.  I am not opposed to guns, I am a hunter, and I believe the owners will be responsible.  Indoor ranges in other communities have proven to be safe and do not make noise or emit odors.

On the other hand, I would prefer to see such a facility in a place that is better patrolled with better natural surveillance.  I also do not think it should be next door to a residence.  It is quite a distance from Huntington Park (about one-half mile), but there are no natural barriers.  Moreover, I wonder if it is an attractive nuisance considering the crime statistics for the areas just south of the facility.

I would feel better about this approval if I thought it was the result of good planning rather than an attempt by people in the rest of Mequon to stick it in our neighborhood.

I would appreciate input from people in the area.  I have never made land use decisions based primarily on popular sentiment.  Decisions should be made based on sound planning with respect for property rights.  Ignoring sound policy and property rights for NIMBY arguments is a bad way to govern.  However, in this instance, I would appreciate input.  There are good arguments to be made for either position.

Of course, I run a risk in making this request.  With certainty, I will disappoint some of the people who write.  However, I could use as much information as I can get, and I only have 14 days to decide whether to ask the council to review this decision.

Please mail me at jwirth@ci.mequon.wi.us.

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