Washington City Council Chambers

A special use permit for an indoor shooting range was approved Monday after city staff located codes that would allow for the enforcement of noise complaints.

Last month, the council tabled approval of the special use permit for Nick’s Gun and Pawn until the potential outdoor noise generated there can be measured.

Sal Maniaci, community and economic development director, told the Washington City Council that a 2017 city code update includes a mechanism to regulate sounds if there is a complaint. 

“It states every property in town does have to follow these noise standards and if there is a complaint, or if city staff sees or hears an issue, we have the ability to bring out a piece of measurement equipment to make sure it meets those standards,” Maniaci said.

The property is zoned C-2, and an indoor range requires a special use permit in that district. Plans call for a 60-foot by 60-foot expansion. The property is located on a portion of Fifth Street that has a mix of residential to light industrial uses.

“It is our recommendation that we do not need to amend the ordinance to add any recommendations because the property would already be required to follow those performance standards,” Maniaci stated.

The council voted 8-0 to approve the special use permit.

When asked, Maniaci said he has spoken to the owner, Nicholas Watts, about the code.

“It is hard to gauge what the decibel levels sound like in real life but I brought it up to him,” Maniaci said.

The hours of operation for Nick’s Gun and Pawn now are Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Watts is proposing to be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. under the new permit.

Last month Watts told the council that pistols and rifles would be fired in the range.

Maniaci previously stated that the property directly behind the expansion is commercial and the gun range will be completely indoors and screened from neighboring properties.

On May 13, the Washington Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval of the request. 

A parking plan will be required prior to occupancy to ensure the minimum standards are met, Maniaci had stated.

In April, the city council approved a new definition in its codes to allow for an indoor gun range within the city limits. 

Prior to approval of the code change, indoor gun ranges are not defined as a permitted use in any zoning districts. The code amendment allows indoor gun ranges to be placed in C-2, C-3, M-1 and M-2 zoning districts with a special use permit.

In addition, the city also has an ordinance that states firearms can only be discharged on properties 3 acres or more. That was to protect large property owners in the city if they wished to hunt, however, it inexplicably prohibited gun ranges because it did not specify indoor or outdoor, according to Maniaci.