Two public hearings are scheduled Monday before the St. Clair Board of Aldermen meeting that could help Larry Varner move forward with plans to open an indoor shooting range.
Varner, owner of St. Clair Gun & Pawn, has taken a series of steps to convert the vacant bowling alley at 795 N. Commercial Ave. into space for his existing business.
The pawn and gun retail business will occupy the front of the 11,300-square-foot building, while Varner said the bowling lanes will be converted into the shooting range. He also plans to modify the outside of the building with concrete-filled blocks or steel, to ensure the range meets all federal guidelines.
No food or alcohol will be served at the business, Varner said, and certified personnel would be on hand at all times.
According to City Administrator Rick Childers, the first hearing will be centered on gaining input on a request to amend a city ordinance that would allow weapons to be discharged within city limits, but only at federally licensed indoor shooting ranges.
The second hearing will pertain to a proposed change in the zoning ordinance that would allow indoor shooting ranges to be listed as a conditional use in areas zoned C2 general commercial, I-1 light industrial and I-2 heavy industrial.
During both hearings, which will begin at 6 and 6:30 p.m. respectively, the public is invited to speak on the two matters.
Varner has already been before the city’s planning board, which has given the board of aldermen its recommendation to approve the shooting range.
No one spoke out in opposition at previous public hearings before the planning board.
On Monday’s agenda are three ordinances that will bring Varner’s plans closer to coming to fruition.
One ordinance will amend the city codes regarding concealed weapons, while another ordinance will amend St. Clair’s zoning codes to allow indoor shooting ranges as a permitted use in certain commercial and industrial zones.
A third ordinance allows weapons to be discharged within city limits, but only in an approved indoor shooting facility.
All three of these ordinances are on the agenda and will be voted on by the city’s aldermen during the regular meeting.
Before Varner could move forward with his plans, he also must get approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Childers said once everything is in place, the board could give final approval to the proposed business at the Aug. 4 meeting.