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Uses Outdoor firing/shooting ranges

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
Hi all,

Just back to the forums after a loooooooooooong hiatus into the world of GIS. Glad to be back.

I work as a junior planner in a smallish service-center community. We have a resident who has built an outdoor firing range in a semi-rural part of town, a use for which we have have no ordinance language at present. So, we are looking at ordinance language to allow the use in a reasonable manner, and need something "bulletproof" (excuse the pun). We have a history of code / property rights disputes with this gentleman, and there are large suburban estates nearby who are very unhappy with the noise. Everyone's ready to sue us and everyone else, which we'd like to avoid...

NRA has design guidelines for ranges but from what I've seen they're really not oriented toward land use regulation from the municipal perspective.

Does anyone have or know of any good municipal ordinances regarding firing ranges? Google turns up a handful but not a comprehensive list.

Thank you!
Sean
 

Coragus

Cyburbian
Messages
1,294
Points
24
My township amended firing ranges about two years ago. They don't regulate personal ranges in the Rural district, but they regulate commercial ranges and require a Special Use Permit (SUP). The term "commercial" is pretty liberal.

If you want to see the ordinance, let me know and I'll shoot it to you.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,555
Points
36
I used to work for a rural county and had a similar problem. I just went with the answer that zoning doesn't regulate shooting. If someone wants a commercial range we'll step in, but what you do in your own yard is your business. The sheriff also came out saying shooting is legal in the county. Just be smart and build a backstop. There was some crying and whining at the commissioners meetings for maybe a month and then people realized the county wasn't going to do anything about it and it all just went away. Being in the semi-rural area I would maybe set a rule that it's allowed provided there are no homes within X distance or downrange or something like that. Also make sure there is no livestock downrange, but that's another story.
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
Thank you both. Currently this is for a "membership-based" range which offers classes, so it would be a commercial venture.

Coragus, I'd love to see the ordinance your community developed.
 

AG74683

Cyburbian
Messages
5,764
Points
23
I used to work for a rural county and had a similar problem. I just went with the answer that zoning doesn't regulate shooting. If someone wants a commercial range we'll step in, but what you do in your own yard is your business. The sheriff also came out saying shooting is legal in the county. Just be smart and build a backstop. There was some crying and whining at the commissioners meetings for maybe a month and then people realized the county wasn't going to do anything about it and it all just went away. Being in the semi-rural area I would maybe set a rule that it's allowed provided there are no homes within X distance or downrange or something like that. Also make sure there is no livestock downrange, but that's another story.
This is our position here. Generally if someone comes in to ask for a permit for a residential (personal) use range, I refer them to YouTube or something like that to learn how to build a safe one, but we don't write permits for them. Frankly, the less I know about them, the better.

Thank you both. Currently this is for a "membership-based" range which offers classes, so it would be a commercial venture.

Coragus, I'd love to see the ordinance your community developed.
But THIS is where we drew the line. The "membership-based" ones seem to be incredibly problematic, similar to something like a building for motorcycle club use. Things have a tendency to get out of hand quickly because there's no real fear of being sued by a random dude off the street (IE no concern for safety). We determined the request to be a commercial use and that it would require a conditional use permit. I was working on standards just in case, but like you, struggled to find something that really looked good. I was going to default to military standards and was planning on contacting someone at Fort Bragg to get more information, but we never got to that point.
 

Tide

Cyburbian
Messages
2,712
Points
21
Ranges are uses permitted by review only here. Shotgun ranges are permitted in the AG districts in the county, not in the city. Within the city no open firing of rifles or handguns (only at the police range). Shotgun ranges are "safer" due to the lack of travel of the projectile. Rifles and Handguns need a lot of stand off safe distance beyond the targets or berms. We use the NRA guidance for safety zones around shooting platforms.
 
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