Planning Commission recommends approval for gun range permit

Lakes Trading Company’s request on to council after 8-0 vote


Clint Riese
News Editor

Plans for a Forest Lake business owner to open an indoor gun range received a positive recommendation from the Forest Lake Planning Commission on April 24.

The nine-member board recommended via an 8-0 vote (one member abstained) that the Forest Lake City Council grant a conditional use permit to Lakes Trading Company.

The business is located at 95 SW Eighth Ave. in a general mixed use (MU-2) district. The City Council recently revised the ordinance addressing gun ranges to allow for their operation in MU-2 districts, among others.

Ben Oliver, who runs the existing 300-square-foot gun shop, hopes to build a 5,454-square-foot, 11-lane range in the same building.

Residents spoke on both sides of the issue during a public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting. Some said it would fill a market for such a facility, while others brought up safety and parking concerns.

Input was also provided at an April 19 neighborhood meeting. A report from Oliver indicated discussion with surrounding business owners centered on parking. He said his staff will encourage regular customers to park behind the building, leaving front spots available for other businesses.

At the Planning Commission meeting, Oliver discussed measures that would be taken to ensure safety and limit noise at the range, which would be known as Lakes Training Center. The gun shop would also expand, occupying a 2,300-square-foot area with the retail store and a new classroom. Overall, the changes are projected to generate up to two full-time and four to six part-time positions. The gun range hours of operation would be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Occasional law enforcement training may take place from 7-10 a.m.

The permit request has the backing of the city’s community development department. Staff proposed conditions that the Planning Commission’s recommendation is contingent upon, including:

• the range meeting all local, state and federal laws

• the obtainment of a building permit through a process including specialized inspections and the addressing of noise mitigation

• the range being designed to meet the city’s noise regulations (noise level shall be no greater than 65 dBA)

• the limiting of weapons fired to the capabilities of the range system

• the restriction of operation between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

• the matching of filled-in doors and windows with the existing building.