Mentor officials looking to clear way for indoor firing ranges in city
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
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By Betsy Scott
Mentor City Council this week laid the groundwork to lift a ban on discharging weapons within the city, at least when it comes to certain businesses.
Council approved amending its weapons use ordinance to make an exception for commercial indoor firing ranges. The panel also OK’d initiating an amendment to the zoning code, referring to the planning commission a proposal to conditionally permit such businesses in industrial districts.
The changes were prompted by a proprietor seeking to open an indoor shooting facility in the city. The location has yet to be determined, said prospective owner David Holtz of Mentor.
“I’m from Mentor, I grew up here, went to Lake Catholic, University of Dayton, in ROTC there,” he said, adding that he did a tour in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army, returning home in 2005. “A business partner I had is owner of a range down in Barberton. I saw the need for one here in Mentor.”
He said shooting facilities generally target hunters or shooting enthusiasts, but he will be aiming to attract what he said is the largest market — personal defense.
“Both men and women who don’t shoot regularly but have (a weapon) in the home for protection,” he said.
A public hearing for the zoning code amendment could be on the Sept. 13 planning commission agenda. Such a hearing also is needed at the council level, should the commission recommend the change. If approved, Holtz then could apply for a conditional-use permit.
“I want to take it one step at a time,” he said.
The amended ordinance states that the weapons use prohibition “does not apply where the discharge of firearms is conducted within an enclosed structure dedicated for commercial purpose as a firing range and where the owner and business principals at the location where the discharge of firearms takes place have applied for and been granted a permit for such activity by the Director of Public Safety. The Director of Public Safety is hereby authorized to incorporate any and all requirements into such permits necessary to ensure public health and safety.”
The section does not apply to instances in which firearms are used in self-defense or by police officers in the line of duty. Violators could be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Police Chief Dan Llewellyn, who also is the public safety director, said the preliminary proposal appears to be in order.
“I think they’ve done a good job of the design from a safety aspect, and it looks like it’s going to be a pretty successful endeavor,” he said.
He said his department and some others in the area have their own shooting range in-house.