McHenry considers another gun range

Published: Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

McHENRY – Monday’s City Council meeting may draw some heated debate when officials review a proposal to allow a gun range on Elm Street because of its proximity to a school.

Bertram Irslinger, who currently operates a licensed firearms business at 409 Front St., is seeking the council’s approval of a use variance to open a shooting range for the general public in conjunction with a sporting goods retail store at 3705 W. Elm St.

“When completed, the building will be the state of the art for sound insulation, air handling, environmental impact and safety,” Irslinger wrote in a letter to the council as part of the request process. “It is my intent to create a sporting retail center and a range to host regional, state and national events and competitions.”

The council is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday and could take a vote on the proposed ordinance.

Currently Eckel’s McHenry Flea Market is using the property, also known in the community as the former Sullivan Foods building.

The city’s administrative staff is recommending that the council approved the use variance. The Planning and Zoning Commission also voted 5-0 in favor of the request at its Aug. 16 meeting.

“The shooting range is a necessary component to the success of the applicant’s business, who wants to be involved in improving the downtown area,” read the staff’s analysis. “ ... Staff believes the proposed store with the shooting range is consistent with the goals and intent of the sub-area plan, drawing more people downtown and providing another reason for them to do so.”

But some residents and business owners strongly oppose the variance allowing for the gun range and have been urging city officials to reject the proposal.

“This gun range is too close to the schools and is not good for the image of McHenry,” one local business owner wrote to Deputy City Administrator Douglas Martin. “

Monday’s request variance for a shooting range isn’t the first up for consideration.

In April, the council approved a use variance for a members-only tactical shooting range on 5002 W. Elm St. Elm Street, also West Route 120, in an area city officials have targeted for economic revitalization.

The property falls in the retail and commercial category under the city’s comprehensive plan. Landmark School lies about 300 feet from the property’s southeast. To the west are Alex’s Restaurant and Locker’s Flowers; to the south, off Third Street, is Mr. Don’s Cleaners. And directly south of the property lies a multi-unit residential area.

If you go

What: McHenry City Council meeting

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Municipal complex, 333 S. Green St. in McHenry

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