VANDALIA — If the Miami Valley Shooting Grounds (MVSG) is to re-open its outdoor shooting ranges, it will likely require legal action.
That comes after MVSG’s attorney asked Vandalia Police Chief Douglas Knight to reconsider his denial of a permit.
But Vandalia Law Director Jerry McDonald said that the decision not to grant the new outdoor permit is “final and will not be reconsidered” in an email to MSVG’s attorney on December 5.
McDonald noted the prior appeal opportunity “was provided as a courtesy to an existing operating business. Your client chose not to appeal that determination. This is considered a denial of an initial request for a permit. Any appeal would need to be taken as an administrative appeal to the Common Pleas Court.”
In November, Knight issued a new permit for MVSG to operate an indoor gun range but denied owner Dana Tacketts’s request for an outside shooting range. That decision came after the city revoked MVSG’s previous permit after an investigation found that the range was in violation of its permit and posed “a threat to public safety.”
Tackett had 10 days to appeal the revocation but instead requested two new applications – one for the indoor range and another for the outdoor range.
The city’s permit has conditions including receiving a zoning certificate, no outdoor shooting, adequate supervision on the range, and adherence to a supervision policy submitted by MVSG.
In a letter to MVSG’s attorney, Knight said that issuance of the outdoor range permit would be “detrimental to the health, safety, welfare, and morals of the City.”
Knight said that the new application is for “substantially the same ranges” and included a requirement for adequate supervision – a condition that was also in MVSG’s previous permit.
One of the reasons for revoking that permit were because the city found inadequate supervision at the range.
Knight was not convinced the new application addressed those concerns.
“A promise and policy regarding enhanced supervision in the future is not persuasive,” he wrote.
Scott Braum, the shooting range’s attorney, disputes that finding in a letter asking that Knight reconsider that decision.
“It defies logic to grant one permit after accepting a promise to supervise but deny another because the exact same promise is not persuasive,” Braum wrote. Braum goes on to say that the outdoor range would be safe without supervision.
“As the State of Ohio operates over a dozen entirely unsupervised outdoor shooting ranges, no reasonable person could conclude that use of MVSG’s outdoor ranges – given the ranges’ current condition and recent improvements – would be in any way unsafe even without additional supervision.”
McDonald countered by saying there is “a significant difference in the ability to supervise the confined indoor ranges vs. supervising the outdoor ranges.”
Knight also noted that there have been “substantial changes in the surrounding neighborhood” due to more houses being constructed since the original permit was issued in 2007.
“An outdoor shooting range is inconsistent with the City’s Future Land Use map, which sets forth the desired land uses for that area,” Knight wrote.
Braum disputed that assertion and asks Knight to identify those changes. He also asks if “someone else has other potential future plans for land in that area?”
“The Foxfire housing development, where a large number of noise complaints arose in the past several years was not nearly as developed in 2007 when the initial permit was issued as it is now,” wrote McDonald.
The Vandalia City Council recently passed a six-month moratorium on new any new shooting ranges or permits to discharge firearms while it considers possible changes to the city’s current regulations. Council has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. to discuss the matter.
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684=8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.