Shooting range to be considered by zoning board

Friday, December 18, 2009

Establishment of a shooting range could be another step closer to reality for the Marshall County Scholastic Trap Shooting Club this month if the county's zoning appeals board grants a request from its head coach.

Marshall County Register of Deeds Dorris Wayne Weaver is representing the shooting club as the applicant for a variance from strict enforcement of zoning regulations for the range at the Marshall County Show Grounds on Robin Hood Road behind the Hi-way 50 Drive-In.

The Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 29, a Tuesday, in the second floor conference room of the County Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's Public Square.

No tax money is to be spent for the firing range, Weaver said. Donations are to pay for the facility.

A variance is needed because the list of normally allowed uses for land that's zoned for the fair grounds does not include a firing range. The zoning appeals board has the authority to override that omission.

Three chief reasons have been given for the firing range, according to Zoning and Codes Director Don Nelson.

The range will:

* Provide a central location for the Marshall County Scholastic Trap Shooting Club that includes young people who are seniors in high school and younger;

* Be a place for the public to go and set rifle sights prior to hunting season; and,

* Provide a firing range for local law enforcement officers to meet their periodic qualification requirements.

The Marshall County Scholastic Trap Shooting Club has an agreement with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) for the competitive shooting organization, Weaver said.

Marshall County owns the fairgrounds and would "lease 3.5 acres on the back side of the county's 20 acres to the TWF," Weaver said. "That federation will absorb the liability and the county won't have exposure.

"We'll have to do it step by step by step," the shooting coach said. "We really don't have all the legwork done yet. It's all based on volunteers."

The county fairgrounds are used three to four times a year, Weaver said, noting it's where horse shows and the Relay for Life are held.

"Hopefully we'll be able to attract other people in for competition and get some tax dollars in here, Weaver said.

Now, the Scholastic Trap Shooting Club doesn't travel very far for competitive shooting. The students have not been going to many places, Weaver said.

"Big Springs at Murfreesboro and the Maury County Gun Club are where we shoot on a regular basis," Weaver said. "I've got four teams with five each, 20 members from third to 12th grade students and there are scholarships out there for kids who shoot to go to college.

"This is the fourth year we've had this team," Weaver said.

Nelson said there's another item on the agenda of note.

Owners of the cabinet shop on State Route 99 want to "put in a relish business there," the zoning chief said.

The request needs approval from the zoning appeals board "because what they want to do does not fit the table (of uses permitted in that commercial zone) but the BZA can decide," Nelson said.

"They're talking about bringing in 20 jobs to the north end of the county," he concluded.