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Chocolay Township Board approves plan for indoor shooting range

By LISA BOWERS

Journal Staff Writer

HARVEY — An indoor gun range on U.S. 41 in Chocolay Township will go forward.

After a public hearing, the Chocolay Township Board voted 6-1 on Monday to reverse the decision of the Chocolay Township Planning Commission and approve a site plan for an enclosed gun range along U.S. 41.

The planning commission voted on July 22 to deny the request from Lake Michigan Armory citing public health and zoning compliance concerns, leading to an appeal by the business owner.

The facility is to be located at 2288 U.S. 41 South.

Opinions were split as about a dozen people spoke during the public hearing. Many cited concerns with public health related to the discharge of lead ammunition and noise, while others supported the proposed facility stating it would be a good place for education and training.

Lake Michigan Armory owner Tom Kolinsky said he was pleased with the board’s decision to approve the site plan for what he described as a “state-of-the-art indoor shooting facility” that will comply with all safety rules and regulations including “extensive ventilation, spent lead collection, lead recycling and gun range safety.”

During a phone interview Wednesday, Kolinsky said he hopes to open the shooting range for business by next summer, pending regulatory requirements.

“(We are) looking forward to potentially putting in the indoor shooting range there,” Kolinsky said. “It is the first step of many to get this process going, and go from there. There are a lot of steps that have to fall into place.”

In a separate motion Monday, the board voted 5-2 instructing the township planner to amend the existing zoning ordinance to include the indoor gun range as a permitted conditional use in a commercial/industrial zone, as well as the township’s firearms ordinance to include such a facility as an exception to the prohibition of firearms use in the township.

Trustee Mark Maki said he was concerned that the board was not following proper procedure regarding the site plan and amending ordinances.

“I am not sure what that means,” Maki told fellow board members. “That means go ahead with the project before we amend the firearms ordinance? If you have agreed that the ordinance doesn’t allow it, how can you approve the site plan? It’s kind of a backward way of going into this; you voted to change the ordinance to allow it and then you voted to approve it even though it’s not allowed.”

Township Planner Dale Throenle said ordinance language changes are typically presented to the planning commission for review and a public hearing before they are presented to the board for adoption where they have several options, including accepting the language as written, accepting it with changes or completely rejecting it.

If the commission accepts the language either as-written or with a rewrite, a public hearing is scheduled, Throenle said. Following the public hearing, the township board holds a first and second reading before adopting the language.

“Generally speaking, because of time frames with the meetings and public hearing requirements, the process takes a minimum of four months to complete,” Throenle said.

He said the proposed amendments to the firearms ordinance are expected to be considered by the planning commission on Monday. Planning commission consideration of the zoning ordinance changes to include an indoor gun range as a permitted conditional use in a township commercial/industrial zone, he said, would occur at a future meeting.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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