By Jeff Gallatin
People both for and against letting an indoor firing range into the North Olmsted Industrial Parkway have zeroed in City Council’s consideration of the issue.
Proponents and opponents both spoke about the issue during a Jan. 22 public hearing on a proposal to grant a conditional use permit to Dale Schmidt, who is proposing using the 5 acres of property he owns in the industrial parkway for an indoor firing range. City Council is scheduled to formally consider the proposal at its Feb. 5 meeting.
Schmidt emphasizes the range will be indoors, have security precautions and that the property is located in an industrial parkway away from schools, churches and other business areas with high retail traffic.
Opponents such as Fred Schirmer, who has operated Schirmer Construction in the parkway for nearly 15 years, question whether a firing range fits the criteria for a business to locate in the Industrial Parkway. Schirmer also said other business owners and workers in the parkway have expressed concern about people with guns coming in and out of the parkway area as well as Schmidt’s plan to have an area of his business where guns and related equipment can be obtained.
Schmidt said he has considered opening an indoor firing range for several years.
“There’s not really one in this area,” he said. “It’s something that there would be a need for such a place for people who enjoy weapons as a hobby and/or are required to know how to use weapons.”
Schmidt said he will have safeguards in place.
“I’ve been going to different sites around the country to see how they operate,” he said. “I’m very aware of recent incidents with guns around the country and will make sure this is done properly, and I know the police chief and his department are running the proper checks on me and the proposal.”
Schirmer said he doesn’t think the industrial park is the proper place for a firing range.
“I don’t believe that was the intent of the city when they set up the industrial parkway years ago,” he said.
Schirmer said he also had concerns about the sale of weapons and accessories at the proposed site.
“There often are a lot of break-ins at those type of businesses,” he said. “And what other places are located near there which also could be targets for break-ins? Our businesses.”
Schmidt said it’s common for firing ranges to have weapons and accessories for sale or rental to patrons.
“If they don’t have earphones or they want to try a new weapon without buying it, they can check it out there,” he said.
North Olmsted safety officials also said they are monitoring the situation.
“We’re running all the proper checks and will be making sure that no one with a bad history is involved,” Police Chief Jamie Gallagher said. “I spent a lot of years as a firearms instructor and can tell that it’s not the ranges that cause a problem. It’s a person or carelessness. You need to make sure people are properly trained and educated.”