Shooting Ranges No Problem in East Dundee, McHenry
Nunda Trail residents objected to a new shooting range in Crystal Lake near their homes.
When city officials approved the building and operation of an indoor shooting range in December, 2010, neighboring residents were less than thrilled.
Nunda Trail residents close to the proposed site at 560 Beechcraft Lane had requested the city’s Planning and Zoning Committee to deny the request on grounds of noise, increased traffic, safety and environmental concerns.
When Straight Shooters Gallery opens June 1, those residents will be only a few hundred feet from the two-acre site located in an industrial park. The two-story cement-walled building will have 12 firing lanes for rifles and another 12 for handguns on the first floor. A 3,200-square-foot second floor houses a mezzanine to be used for classroom instruction. Operating hours will be seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; firearms and ammunition will be sold on the premises.
City Councilman Ralph Dawson was the sole objector to the facility when Crystal Lake developer and entrepreneur Bo Strom petitioned the city council to build and operate the site. Upon Dawson’s insistence, the council permitted the special permit use on the condition that the facility comply with environmental safety laws in accordance with IEPA and OSHA.
Prior to the December city council meeting Dawson visited East Dundee and spoke with residents living near G.A.T. Guns, an indoor shooting range with 24 shooting galleries for handguns only. Dawson said that residents told him during the summer evenings they can hear guns going off inside the building.
“They said with that pop, pop, pop, you can’t relax,” Dawson said. These complaints motivated him to vote against Straight Shooters Gallery considering the proximity of Nunda Trail residents. Dawson didn’t know if any of the residents had ever filed a complaint with the village, but one resident said he had noted the events as they occurred.
Frank Koehler, village administrator for the Village of East Dundee, said there have never been complaints of noise or other issues regarding G.A.T. Guns.
“It’s not really been an issue here at all, there’s been no negative impact from the community,” he said.
G.A.T. Guns opened in 1988, and Koehler said that it’s located near a wildlife foundation in an unincorporated area and rather isolated with the exception of a small residential subdivision nearby. Due to the length of time residents and G.A.T. Guns have co-existed, Koehler said that any issues would have been resolved long ago.
“Indoor ranges not only help the shooting enthusiast, but also has some benefit to the police officers in the area as well, for whatever training they may need,” he said.
McHenry City Administrator Chris Black likewise said that residents and business neighbors of HP Shooting Center have not filed complaints in the 30 years it has been located on Route 120. It is also an indoor handgun site with seven lanes, and sells ammunition and firearms on the premises.
Dawson said that the city is depending on Strom to follow through using precast concrete for building to muffle the sounds, which should make noise a non-issue.
“I still didn’t support it. I didn’t think it was the right area. But the safeguards they brought–they put themselves on the line,” he said.
Dawson added that the city considered Straight Shooters just another business enterprise–new, yes–but the city has welcomed other business such as tattoo parlors and car businesses that were unheard of years ago.