Commission recommends reopening gun range, with conditions
By Heather J. Carlson
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
WEST CONCORD — Dodge County’s planning commission has recommended that a local gun-range owner be given a second shot.
Commissioners on Wednesday voted in favor of granting Terry Campbell a permit to reopen his Minute Man Indoor Handgun Range. The recommendation comes after the county yanked Campbell’s permit this summer because of allegations from a neighbor that bullets from the range had whizzed across Minnesota Highway 57 and struck his property. Campbell’s conditional-use permit did not allow any outdoor shooting on the property.
The recommended approval does come with a long list of requirements — many of which were suggested by the Milton Township Board. Among them is a zero-tolerance policy for any future permit violations.
"We feel that any other violations of this permit would be grounds for permanent closure of this facility," said Ron Durst, the township board’s chairman.
Other requirements include that the range pass an inspection before opening, that all outdoor shooting ranges be removed, and that the facility be inspected at least annually.
The Dodge County Board will vote on the commission’s recommendation at its Tuesday meeting.
Township and county officials toured the gun range last month.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, Campbell assured officials that he had removed the berm and tires north of the building that could have been used for outdoor shooting.
Campbell is also editor/publisher of the West Concord News-Enterprise.
Dale V. Allen, the neighbor who complained about the bullets, said in an interview after the meeting that he was pleased with the requirements approved by the commission. But he said he is still concerned because outdoor range equipment is still set up on a site owned by Campbell near his property.
"Someone could pull in there with a pickup and shoot out there," Allen said.
He added that the indoor range should be inspected by a professional with knowledge about the safety requirements for indoor ranges.
Duane Johnson, director of Dodge County Planning and Zoning, told commissioners he believes that he has found someone qualified to do this kind of inspection.
Allen’s complaint dates back to May 31, when he alleges he heard the bullets fly past his home. Dodge County initially ordered that Campbell temporarily close the range and required him to remove all outdoor shooting ranges within 30 days. When Campbell failed to remove the equipment within the time limit, the county revoked his permit.
Ed Garris, a certified firearms instructor, urged the commission to allow Campbell to reopen the range. He said he has helped train roughly 400 people on how to use a firearm safely at Campbell’s range.
He added, "There has never been an accident there."
To read more about the Minute Man Gun Range, go to www.postbulletin.com/weblinks.
Minute Man Indoor Handgun Range http://www.minutemanrange.com/