Shooting range planned for Forest Lake gun shop

Lakes Trading Company seeks permit


Clint Riese
News Editor

The owner of a Forest Lake gun shop is seeking permission to add an indoor shooting range. The Forest Lake Planning Commission next Wednesday will consider a request from Ben Oliver of Lakes Trading Company for a conditional use permit.

His business is located in a mall at 95 SW Eighth Ave., which is in a mixed-use district.

The City Council, after its third look at the matter, on March 11 voted unanimously to change the city code to allow the discharge of firearms in qualified indoor ranges in MU-2 zoning districts, as well as in Limited Industrial Business and Industrial districts, contingent upon a conditional use permit.

The planning commission on Feb. 13 had recommended the council require applicants to obtain an interim use permit. That board also recommended limiting indoor ranges to those same districts, but only on properties south of 11th Avenue South and west of Highway 61. Lakes Trading Company is located north of 11th Avenue.

The related ordinance was outdated and had not been revised when the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning districts were updated in 2010.

Oliver hopes to expand his gun shop from 250 square feet to 1,600 by putting in an 11-lane, 25-yard range. From the Heart Bible and Gift, which occupies the adjacent suite to the west, would relocate. Lakes Trading Company’s neighbor to the east, The Music Connection, would consolidate at the same address to make room.

A public hearing at the April 24 planning commission meeting begins at 7 p.m. If the board recommends approval of the permit, the matter would likely go before the City Council on May 13, said Community Development Director Doug Borglund.

  • Jesse James

    A gun range in the middle of Forest Lake? Are you kidding me? I have no problems with a gun range, but not where it is projected to be. Put it out of the city proper. Plus you are displacing a business, shutting another down and requiring a 3rd business to shrink. This is affecting 3 entitys who pay taxes!!!!
    Here we go again, Forest Lake is not doing what is best for Forest Lake!!!! Keep 3 business owners going and have the gun range open someplace else and now you have 4 businesses paying taxes and keeping the guns away from the trail and the schools!!!! Helping a selected few at the expense of others, how stupid and scary!!!!
    Please attend the hearing on the 24th and voice your concerns. We need to speak up!!!

    • Reggie

      Im sure with this range there will be many hoops to go through ensuring public safety. Gun ranges mean that people will become more comfortable with their firearm ensuring even further safety. From the sounds of it the other businesses have agreed to relocate or alter their original business. In my eyes I am not sure what the problem with this is. It seems more to me you are concerned with the idea of guns. Lets face it the guns arent going away. This town is hurting with many empty store fronts and I think Forest Lake needs to do what they can to keep business here. The city is already trying to run Dazy Maze and a couple others out of town with new ordinances…You supress to many small businesses and they will take their shops elsewhere further adding to the ghost town that Ol’ Forest Lake is becoming.

    • Eric Langness

      The building would remain under the same ownership and the range would be a renter. Without improvements to the building the taxes it pays would theoretically be the same. Since a gun range would require building improvements, increasing its value, the property would pay higher taxes. The 3 other businesses whom rent to my knowledge are relocating in Forest Lake, ultimately in other locations that pay property taxes as well. This is a net gain of an additional business in Forest Lake and multiple property improvements, all causing the net value to go up and the property taxes paid. As a resident, I thank these business owners, as it causes my property taxes to be less because they are here.

      Secondly, I understand this will be an indoor facility. So, I’m not certain that your concerns with the proximity to the trail are relevant. If it was an outdoor facility, I would agree 100% the location would be a public safety concern not to mention a nuisance for noise.

  • Eric Marleau

    Great to see Ben doing this! Forest Lake will now be a place for shooters to learn safe handling of firearms, and for families to enjoy the shooting sports.

    Eric Marleau

    NRA Chief Range Safety Officer