Business & Real Estate

After protest, Rancho Cordova could change rules for shooting range locations

Rancho Cordova city officials said Tuesday night they can’t prevent the Sacramento Gun Club from opening an indoor shooting range on Routier Road, near a school, church and local park, but they can consider amending the city code to prevent such facilities at similar locations in the future.

Area residents and parents of students at George Washington Carver School of Arts and Science, a charter high school, accused the City Council and staff members of a lack of transparency for failing to notify the public when Fite Development Co. sought a building permit for the shooting range.

But Paul Junker, city planning director, said this project, like many others, was consistent with city code and state law, and required only administrative approval, rather than public notice and a hearing before the City Council. The property is zoned for office industrial uses, which include indoor shooting ranges.

“We can’t deny a building permit just because we don’t like the business,” said Councilman David Sander.

Allegra Alessandri, principal of the high school, thanked city officials for arranging a Tuesday tour of the building, which is nearing completion at 3443 Routier Road in the Lincoln Village area. She said it was clear that a lot of thought had been given to planning the facility and that a great deal of expense had gone into the building, which is within 500 feet of the high school.

But, Alessandri said, “I’m disappointed that we haven’t had the opportunity for public notice or public comment.”

Rucha Powers said her husband is a teacher at Carver high school and her son is a student there. Although the shooting range may be a legal business, it should not be near a school, she said, arguing that guns and schoolchildren are not a good mix.

“It’s a little bit of magical thinking to think that nothing will go wrong,” Powers said.

But Rancho Cordova resident Derald Langwell said he was pleasantly surprised to learn that the gun club was opening a local facility.

“I’m glad to see we will have an all-weather shooting range,” he said.

People taking guns to and from the range will be required to have them locked and unloaded, Langwell said, adding that law-abiding gun owners are not a threat to public safety.

Parents said they are concerned about people who don’t abide by the law.

Brian Lenz said he would not have enrolled his 14-year-old daughter at Carver had he known about the shooting range. He predicted that enrollment at the school will drop dramatically as result of the new gun club facility.

Law-abiding citizens don’t commit gun crimes, Lenz said, “but our country is running rampant with lunatics who have guns.”

Junker said the shooting range is well designed to prevent bullets from escaping the building, but he said he understood the concern of parents and nearby residents about weapons being transported to and from the range. He said the city staff would work with school officials and Fite Development representatives to organize a forum regarding operation of the facility. Junker said Fite Development is eager to be a good neighbor.

Because discussion of the shooting range occurred during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting and was not on the agenda, council members could take no action. But Councilman Donald Terry said he favored scheduling a council discussion on amending the city code pertaining to the location of such facilities.

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