By Jeff Gallatin
City officials will continue to consider whether placing an indoor shooting range in the North Olmsted Industrial Park off Lorain Road hits the right mark for the city.
During the public comment section of City Council’s Feb. 4 meeting, several residents of homes located near the industrial park expressed their concern about the proposal by Dale Schmidt to locate an indoor gun range on five acres he owns in the park. In addition, Fred Schirmer, who owns Schirmer Construction Co. in the park, also continued his opposition with his attorney, Steve O’Bryan, speaking as well.
Council was set to discuss in its Building, Zoning and Development Committee meeting last night whether it should grant a conditional use permit to allow the gun range.
Paul Barker, the senior member of council, said afterward city officials have seen both sides of the issue expressed in recent weeks.
“At the public hearing, most of the people spoke in favor of having the range,” Barker said. “Then, at the council meeting, all the people spoke against it. So, we obviously have a lot to consider about whether to grant a conditional use for that purpose.”
Barker noted the upcoming committee meeting, and that there will be additional opportunities for discussion. While he himself has said he thinks the gun range is a good idea, he reiterated that he and council are listening to all the parties involved.
“I know there are people who have concerns about this, but I think people are losing sight of the fact that this is an indoor gun range, and that there will be safety precautions taken with it,” he said.
Schirmer said the people opposing the range are not against the concept of a range, but the proposed location.
“We’re not anti-range, we’re anti-location on this,” he said. “It’s the wrong location for that type of business.”
Schirmer said he expected several people to be at the committee meeting, expressing their concerns about the proposal.
O’Bryan noted he has been a law director for different cities, such as Independence, and represented both public and private clients in business-related issues. He said he has attended hundreds of business and municipal meetings related to use of business properties.
“This is just bad zoning and bad use of property the way it stands right now,” he said.
Other opponents also have said a gun range is not the proper use of the industrial park. They have noted that there are other businesses around, saying people going to and from a firing range with weapons is a potential safety hazard to other nearby businesses and homes.
Barker said he understands people’s concerns about the use of the property, but believes the range would work.
“I know some people say that this is for light industrial use,” he said, “but we’ve been waiting a lot of years for all those type of uses to come into the park, and it doesn’t seem to be coming. I think that putting the range in there would be a good use because the city is checking it and would continue to make sure it is handled properly.”
Myron Young, who lives near the industrial park, questioned the contention that having a gun range in North Olmsted would be good because there is not another range nearby. He said another range is being set up in Berea and that North Olmsted residents could go there if they wish.
Several people also questioned allowing the sale and rental of guns and accessories at the site.
Schmidt has said that many ranges sell or rent the guns and accessories. He said there will be safeguards in place at the range.
City police officials said they are running background checks and doing other investigations as they normally would for any proposed business like a gun range.
Schmidt has said if he is granted approval for building the range on the 5-acre property, he plans to have it running by the end of the year.