News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 2, 2014

Area Plan approves southside indoor gun range

TERRE HAUTE — At least one hurdle in the path of a proposed new indoor shooting range has been cleared.

The Vigo County Area Plan Commission gave a thumbs up Wednesday to a rezoning request that would allow a former furniture store on the city’s south side to become an indoor shooting range and gun shop.

The former Furniture Gallery at Seventh Street and U.S. 41, owned by Kim and Jim Worland, is proposed to become the new home for Top Guns, a southside gun shop. Steve Ellis, owner of the shop, also wants to build a shooting range inside the 60,000-square-foot building.

The Worlands are seeking the rezoning before selling the property, Kim Worland told the Tribune-Star Tuesday.

At the one-hour Area Plan Commission meeting in the Vigo County Annex, several members of the public raised questions and concerns about the proposed range. Concerns included alcohol sales, noise, traffic and air quality.

Ellis, answering the concerns, said the shooting range will not provide alcohol and would have strict standards preventing anyone from using the range who had been drinking. He also said the range will be enclosed in a concrete building within the furniture building with 10-inch thick walls. That would prevent any bullets from getting outside, he said. Air inside the range and leaving the range would be filtered, he said.

As for noise, Ellis said there is no way to be “100 percent sure” there will be no noise from the range but the concrete walls should reduce any noise considerably, he said. One resident said he is worried the noise might bother neighborhood dogs.

Darren Maher, executive director of the Area Planning Department, said there are county noise ordinances to prevent excessive noise. He also said he would not expect noise from the range to be “sharp enough” to affect dogs.

As for traffic, Ellis said if his business does not use the former furniture building, something else will. In any case, traffic would result, he said. Ellis also said there will be no outdoor shooting activities at the business.

“We have no interest in being a bad neighbor to anyone,” Ellis said.

The representative of one residential neighbor asked how promises made at the meeting will be enforced. Maher said a “certificate of occupancy” will be granted only if the project meets specified standards.

The request must now go before the Vigo County Commissioners, where it will have a favorable recommendation from the 12-person plan commission and the Area Planning Department staff.

n Also, the plan commissioners gave their OK to a request from the Mental Health Association of Vigo County to subdivide three acres of land on the city’s east side for emergency housing. The property, which is between Locust and Elm streets and between North 25th Street and Brown Avenue, will require “environmental cleansing” prior to building, Maher said. He also said it was “unfortunate” that “stakeholder entities” had not communicated with the Area Planning Department until the project was well under way.

n The plan commission also gave its approval to a subdivision request for a planned Casey’s General Store distribution center in the Vigo County Industrial Park.

There were no votes against any of the requests before the commission Wednesday night.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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