Osseo approves gun range proposal

The Osseo City Council approved 3-2 granting the request for a conditional use permit (CUP) to allow for a firearm shooting range and firearm retail business during its Monday, June 24 meeting.

Councilors Bonnie Heinen and Allan Hartkopf voted against.

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 Osseo Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the CUP application June 17.

 

RANGE PROPOSAL

City Planner Riley Grams stated the presented the CUP for the proposed gun range at the meeting. 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.

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 project is assumed to be completed in late November or early December.

The topic of the range being located 462 feet away from Osseo Senior High School has been addressed. 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.”

The city attorney and attorney for the developer agree this location would be exempt based on the fact it would be private commercial property.

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.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

The council allowed for comments from the public during the meeting. Some of the comments are listed below.

Martin Duffy, owner of Duffy’s Bar and Grill, said the project would benefit Osseo, the businesses and the Osseo Lions, who donate to the city as well.

Resident Allen Coffman said he liked the idea of the gun range, just not in the proposed location. He felt there were better locations along County Road 81. Ed Columbus agreed.

Scott Nellis supported the gun range proposal. He said the other area ranges around the area are usually busy and it’s not unusual to wait an hour to get a chance to shoot.

Resident Dan Stark said he lives across from the site and has daughters and has no safety concerns, but supports the range. He added the lot where the range will be built has been empty for years.

40-year-plus resident Arleen Barrett said, “I don’t think Osseo needs a brick building right in town … and we sure don’t want to look at a large brick building.” She said the council should consider putting the building some place else.

 

COUNCIL COMMENTS

Next, the council members gave their input on the project.

Councilor Rick Weber addressed citizen concerns. “There have been some accusations based that this has been run through extremely fast,” he said. “I asked Mr. Williamson when he started this process. The original start time for him was January and started with the city in late February. That’s not rushing anything through at all.”

Mayor Duane Poppe agreed and said there had been a lot discussion and meetings on the topic. He added other locations around town were also considered, including the dance studio and fireplace shop. “It ended up being to house the business he wanted to run there wasn’t another location that would make sense.”

He continued that if something were to happen to the business, the site would be adaptive to reuse. The building could become a movie theater or multi-tenant it with four businesses.

Councilor Mark Schulz said, “This is a great asset to our community on several different fronts.”

He added he understood the idea of “what’s best for me,” but said he felt this development was good for the community.

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