Urbana Council Changes Ordinance for Firing Ranges, Gun Stores

By Jeff Bossert
August 21, 2012

The Urbana City Council has unanimously agreed to back changes to the city zoning ordinance to allow applications for gun stores and indoor firing ranges.

The change was made on the recommendation from the Urbana Plan Commission.  The panel approved them 6 to 1 at its August 9th meeting. 

The measure also impacts home-based businesses that sell guns.   

Nearly 30 people attended recent meetings to hear that panel endorse the idea, but no one spoke out against the plan at last night’s council meeting. 

Urbana planning manager Robert Myers says each application would be considered on a case by case basis, involving public hearings. 

Urbana Planning Manager Robert Myers says the panel carefully considered minimum standards in other cities in terms of where these businesses were in relation to schools, parks, and homes. 

He says each will be considered on their own merit in a public hearing, a bit like applications for a new liquor license.

"Sometimes, it may be straightforward, cut and dry, and some of the cases require more discussion," Myers said.  "And though we don't necessarily have really exact detail critieria, including distance requirements for liquor licenses, but there's a chance for the public to comment, and everyone can have their say to review it on a case by case basis."

Dean Hazen of Urbana-based D & R Firearms, which operates out of his home, says a lot of time people inherit firearms, and don’t really know what they’re doing.  He wants to bring his experience and training to the private sector.

"My big thing is education and training," Hazen said.  "As we all know, we've had some tragic incidents, even in Champaign County, besides nationwide.  A lot of it has been due to great ignorance with firearms and recklessness with firearms.  I'd like to be part of making that go away."

Hazen says any firing range he sets up would not allow rentals of guns, and says training would be led largely by retired police officers.  The weapons ordinance involves solely handguns. The ordinance does not address who can own or sell a gun. 

The measure’s special use permits will also require notification of property owners within 500 feet, and a security plan approved by Urbana’s Chief of Police.

Story source: WILL