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Gun range lease approved, but not without dissent

Sep 12, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

The Riverton City Council voted to approve the Riverton Shooting Club lease Tuesday. The vote came after councilwoman Mary Ellen Christensen and Mayor Ron Warpness expressed concerns about what type of ammunition was being fired at the shooting club within city limits.

"I know of one resident who sold his home because of the rim fire near the shooting club," Christensen said. "I would like to see some plans about how long the shooting lanes are going to be, will there be children near the area of where the guns are going to be pointed? I feel bad someone had to sell their home because they couldn't put up with the noise."

Christensen said she enjoyed shooting and had nothing against the gun range, but she remained leery of approving the lease without specific questions answered in writing.

"We live in the middle of Wyoming with enough sagebrush ground to go shooting," Christensen said. "Why do we have to have a shooting club in the middle of the city limits with lots of noise and children close by?"

During previous gun range discussions, council members discussed the safety hazards that go along with rural shooting, and they also talked about homemade "targets" like washing machines and other trash that often is left behind in the county.

Ammunition

Warpness showed several different bullets to council members. He said he was concerned the current lease would allow large ammunition to be fired.

"The current lease as described would allow a 50-caliber to be shot," Warpness said. "The reality of what we are dealing with is, if we don't change the lease with what can be shot down at the club, we are basically allowing the shooting club to do whatever they would like to do. There is a large range of different ammunition that can be fired at the range."

The new lease would be for 99 years unless terminated sooner, and the city could terminate the lease if the land becomes necessary for a municipal purpose. Rent would be $1 per year as long as the shooting club remained a 501c(3). The uses of the property would be expanded to include all controlled recreational and competitive shooting sports such as pistol, rifle, muzzleloader, shotgun and archery activities. One section of the lease would allow the Riverton Police Department to use the land for scheduled department firearm training qualification purposes.

The original lease, constructed Oct. 30, 2009, was for a large parcel of land that was not clearly identified. City staff met with members of the shooting club several times to work out a new lease agreement. The new lease would state the boundaries, as well as correct the name of the leasing organization, changing it from the Riverton Gun Club to the Riverton Shooting Club.

Councilman Richard Gard said council members had already discussed the shooting club. He informed council members that downtown State Street in Salt Lake City had a gun range that was safe in the center of town.

"The gun club has every right to do the right thing," Gard said. "There is a very limited amount of people who even own a 50 caliber weapon. It is not a weapon you would use on a short range. This has been passed and approved. ... Let's get on with it."

Concerns aired

Christensen said the shooting club was not in a good location.

"People have the right to enjoy a peaceful time in their homes," Christensen said. "I respect the gun club's right to shoot all day and all night long, but not next to the folks who have to live in that area. I'm sure State Street in Utah is one heck of a shooting range, but I don't think it is a good idea for us to have one in the city limits."

Shawn Tessman, treasurer of the Riverton Shooting Club, said the shots being fired were away from people, and no one was firing near children.

"We are firing 90 degrees away from where anyone would be," Tessman said. "I guess I would like to ask if every councilman would like to have a rock crusher and gravel pit moved near their kids because that is exactly what is going on down there.

"We had a meeting where we were told to continue on with phase one of our plans, and we would like to go ahead and move forward with phase two."

Tessman said the shooting club had talked with Riverton police chief Mike Broadhead, who said he would like to see some rifles shot at the shooting club.

"The city codes are in place," Tessman said. "The safety is also in place. We would like to move forward."

Councilman Lars Baker asked how many people were members of the shooting club. Tessman said there are 149 members.

Christensen said any time the council voted on something like a piece of subdivision or a slice of land, they were provided with drawings.

"We have a lot of time to look at everything," Christensen said. "I don't know what you are doing except shooting big guns next to where people live. We don't have any pictures, and that is foolish. I think there needs to be something about sound. I am not against the gun range, I am against the location, and I shouldn't be made to vote until I have the proper information."

Christensen and Warpness voted against the approval of the lease while the rest of the council voted in favor to approve it.

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Riverton City Council