The Osseo City Council will be taking up the topic of bringing a proposed gun range to the city at its next meeting, Monday, June 24.
This proposed development has brought up some concerns and a slight difference of opinion.
Applicant Chris Williamson applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) to allow a 20-lane indoor firearms shooting range with an attached firearm retail space that would be located on the properties of 32 Fourth Street N.W. and 316 First Avenue N.W., which are currently used for municipal and public parking. The new business would be called “Osseo Gun Club.”
The property has been listed as “entertainment and amusement services such as arcades, billiards, bowling alleys, lounges, clubs and lodges” based on city code by city staff and the city attorney. Because of this proposed use in the Central Business District, the applicant must obtain a CUP.
City Planner Riley Grams stated the presented the CUP for the proposed gun range at the June 17 Planning Commission meeting. He said the adjacent properties include Princeton Liquors and Duffy’s Bar and Grill to the east, single-family homes to the west, and Osseo Church of the Nazarene further to the south. To north are Osseo City Hall, Osseo Fire Department, Osseo Police Department as well as two other smaller businesses.
With the two current parking lot properties combined, the gun range would be located on a site that is a total of 32,744 square feet.
The proposed building would be 17,730 square feet. It would be located on the northwest corner of the property, and run from north to south on the property. The main entrance would be located on the building’s northeast side. A parking lot would be located between the building and the alley.
There would be two parts to the building’s make up. The first area would include retail space (sales counter, waiting lounges, commercial sales area, restrooms and mechanical room), as well as an office room, two classroom rooms and a gunsmithing and storage area. This would make up 6,800-square-feet of the building.
The second part of the building would include the 20 lanes of firearms shooting range space. The actual shooting range length would be 75 feet. The higher caliber shooting lanes, which create more noise, would be located to east and furthest away from the residential areas. There would also be a bullet trap area, which would be constructed of AR500 steel, combined with a decelerator chamber where bullets enter and are broken up into pieces and then dropped into a collection chamber. The range walls would be made of 12-inch thick brick and backfilled with concrete. The ceiling would also have 12-inch thick concrete spans. The bullet trap and firing range components would be constructed by Action Target, a national fabricator of law enforcement grade firing ranges.
The range area is required to be constructed in accordance with federal, state and local building codes.
There would also be windows, either fake or real, included in the project along First Avenue N.W. to break up the 197-foot wall.
Parking for the business would be in the 32 stalls on-site, as well as on the street and the Premier Bank parking lot. A minimum of 18 trees will also have to be included in the project. All trash and/or outdoor storage space will be screened completely from the adjacent properties.
The property will include a safe level of lighting around the building during evening hours, separate from the street light poles along First Avenue N.W.
There was concern over the potential noise the range could create. The applicant assured city staff the building materials would not allow audible noises to be heard from adjacent residential areas. The applicant will be including additional sound proofing measures so the decibel level would be reduced to less than that of a passing vehicle.
The complete cost of the project, including land, building, and all the equipment, is estimated to be around $3.1 million. The building alone is roughly $2 million.
Williamson said guns would not be allowed the range if they are loaded.
The gun range would be open no earlier than 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday, no earlier than 10 a.m. on Sunday, no later than 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and no later than 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Grams said a rough time frame of the project would be: one to two weeks for official building plans submitted to the city, Planning Commission and City Council landscape approval around mid-July, construction could begin early to mid-August, with a completed project in late November or early December.
Also discussed during the Planning Commission meeting was the topic of the range being located 462 feet away from Osseo Senior High School. Federal law prohibits “knowingly possessing a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.” The law defines “school zone” as an area that is within 1,000 feet of any school grounds. Exceptions include “possession on private property that is not part of the school grounds; possession for use in an approved school program; possession of a firearm that is unloaded and in a locked firearms rack in a motor vehicle; and possession by a law enforcement officer and an authorized school contractor.”
On behalf of the city attorney, City Administrator Doug Reeder said, “His opinion is there is no Minnesota law which clearly prohibit the gun shop, gun range at the proposed location. Current Minnesota law does not allow guns within 300 feet of a school site… Federal law does require 1,000 feet from a school, but there is an exemption that says you don’t count private property. We have not gotten any opinions from the attorneys that this property is anything other than private property, so the federal does not pertain.”
Reeder added there were discussions with the Robbinsdale Police Department and the Osseo Police Chief regarding a gun range located in a Robbinsdale shopping mall. He said there were no problems with the shooting range in that city.
There was public comment taken during the Planning Commission meeting on the proposal. About 25 people spoke during that time. Some of the comments included the following.
Martin Duffy, owner of Duffy’s Bar and Grill, said he would be very excited if the proposal went through. He added, “The people that are going to use this facility have money, and they will spend it at other businesses in this town. And they will use registered firearms. And they will be citizens that know how to use those firearms.”
Kurt Beuchler, from George’s Barber Shop, said this will be a place where kids can get their gun safety training.
Several people commented that the gun range would draw people to Osseo, helping make the city a destination.
Kate Maguire, Superintendent of Osseo Area Schools, stated, “I’m not here to advocate either for or against the proposed gun range. I’m here simply to share my concerns about the proximity of the gun range to our schools, both Osseo Senior High School and Osseo Junior High School … and its potential impact on a safe and healthy learning environment.” School officials have primary responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment, according to Maguire.
Osseo Junior High School Principal Brian Chance said he was concerned with the possible perception that could come from parents and community members from seeing cased firearms. He added schools would have to react if a report was received and a lockdown would be initiated. He said he wasn’t against the range, just the proximity to the schools.
Resident Chris Chub said he felt maybe some school officials underestimate the common sense of people in town.
Bill English, of Maple Grove Firearms, added that the line of site from the school to the gun range is obstructed because the cars in the range’s parking lot cannot be seen from the school.
Jeannie Pietari, Dave Arnrud and Allen Coffman said they felt the range was a good idea, but just in another location in town or just outside of town. Dawn Goetsch felt Osseo was no the place for a range.
PLANNING COMMISSION & EDA
Both the Planning Commission and Economic Development Authority have discussed the issue of the proposed gun range.
Grams said the EDA does not vote on the CUP. EDA only votes on is the Development Agreement, which also needs council approved. This will spell out what the public assistance, if any, will be for the project. “I anticipate that the EDA will see a final Development Agreement in July sometime,” Grams added.
The Planning Commission voted 7-0 on June 17 in favor of the CUP for the project. There were 20 conditions of approval for the CUP. A list can be found in the June 17 Planning Commission packet on the city’s website.
The CUP will now be heard by the City Council at its meeting Monday, June 24, at 7 p.m. for final approval. If the Council approves it, that means the project can move forward because the City Council found the use is accepted at that location, according to Grams.