Shooting range in question after complaints

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Opposition to a planned shooting range could cause the Chilton County Commission to reconsider.

The commission, at the request of Sheriff Kevin Davis, approved at a meeting on July 9 using county property near the Chilton County Airport for a shooting range, but several residents in the area have voiced concern since then, commissioner Allen Caton said.

“I think it’s safe, but the biggest thing is the people around there are going to be concerned about the sound,” Caton said. “If it’s going to affect some houses and affect some people around there, it’s something maybe we’ll have to rethink.”

Commissioners discussed the range at a work session Monday, but no consensus was reached about the issue, and no action could be taken until the group’s next meeting, on July 23.

Davis said the sheriff’s department would benefit from the range, and the location could eventually encompass a training facility.

“We have been in desperate need of a firing range and training facility,” Davis said, especially because deputies travel outside of the county for training that could be performed in Chilton County if there was an adequate facility. “We have numerous deputies who have instructor certification who can teach classes to our own deputies.”

Thorsby has a shooting range, but Davis said it’s too small to benefit the sheriff’s department, and there is no classroom space available.

Bids had already been received for the timber on the land. Davis said the county was offered as much as $11,900 for the timber and mentioned using that money to help pay for the project to install a range.

Davis said all steps necessary to make the range safe would be taken, including a buffer zone between the range and nearby residences and the building of dirt berms.

“We want it to be a safe, professional facility,” he said. “The last thing we would do is build something that would put the citizens of Chilton County, or the deputies, in danger.”

But those that live in the area have raised concerns.

Lanis Robinson said he is building a home 200 yards from where the range would be located.

“I don’t understand why they would want to put this in the city limits,” Robinson said. “I’m a retired Army captain and I’ve been to many a range, and there aren’t any of them that are 100 percent safe.”

There are two subdivisions in the vicinity of the planned range, which would be located due north of the easternmost point of the airport’s runway.

Davis said he thinks concerns would be eased once people became more comfortable with the range being close by.

“It’s a bigger plus than it is a negative,” he said. “I think it’ll be a major plus for our community and our county.”