Clovis City Council OKs indoor shooting range

Residents express safety concerns.

The Fresno BeeNovember 21, 2011 

The Clovis City Council on Monday approved operation of the city's first indoor shooting range, but imposed limits to mollify neighboring residents.

The 4-1 vote on the conditional use permit now allows businessman Jacob Belemjian to proceed with construction of the shooting range in an existing industrial building at 1173 E. Dayton Ave.

The range, adjacent to industrial buildings and some homes, drew concerns from some residents. They worried that the shooting would be directed toward the homes north of the facility. They also worried about noise and loitering.

Council Member Bob Whalen appeared to share their concerns initially, but later said safety specifications negated the risk to residents. The safety measures include custom 10- and 12-foot-high concrete walls, a set of overhead baffles and a rubber bullet trap.

Mayor Pro Tem Lynne Ashbeck, the sole no vote, added a number of conditions to the range's use permit. They included requiring an earlier closing time on the weekend, to 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., and requiring the range to not allow customers to loiter in the parking lot, a sticking point for the small number of neighbors who spoke to the council on Monday.

She also questioned Belemjian about the screening process for his employees and was dismayed that no special regulation governs the hiring of shooting range workers.

Belemjian made it clear, however, that he would not hire felons and would complete a background check on applicants before hiring them.

At one point during the discussion, Clovis Mayor Jose Flores asked members of the public to raise their hands to show whether they supported or opposed the shooting range. About 30 raised their hands in support; only three raised hands in opposition.

With the council's approval in hand, Belemjian said he is awaiting approval of his building plans from the city's Planning and Development Department.

He expects to open the range by March 1, 2012.

The reporter can be reached at atavlian@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6659.

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