Cornelius Town Hall was full of support Monday night, Oct. 4, as the Board of Commissioners approved a plan for a gun store and shooting range on Bailey Road.
It took an hour for commissioners to approve the plan for Lake Norman Shooting Arms and Range, in part because of a long session of citizen comments in support of the idea. Most of the comments, while supporting the range, seemed to be arguing against a nonexistent opposition. In fact, the only real opposition to the plans wasn’t safety fears but eyesore concerns because of its bright yellow paint.
“Our intention is to bring a clean, family-friendly, family-oriented facility to the area,” said Stuart Mullen, the project’s manager.
In fact, no one from the public stood up to voice any concerns or objections to the shooting range proposal.
Commissioner Lynette Rinker was the only person who brought up a safety concern. She said she was worried that the shooting range would sit next to the Heritage Green neighborhood, and she asked whether the people of that neighborhood would be safe.
Brian Sisson, the developer, said the shooting range was a safety measure, in that it would teach about protection and security.
“The purpose of the facility is to educate the public,” Sisson said.
Matt Hyle, who lives on Willow Leaf Lane in Heritage Green, said he supports the project. “I have two small children, and I have no concerns. I know that range will be safe.”
Mayor Jeff Tarte and about 15 citizens also spoke in favor of the project.
“I understand and appreciate that there are those who are absolutely against firearms, one of them being my wife,” Tarte said. “I think it’s a great amenity to have in our community for those who don’t enjoy guns and those that do to learn how to respect and treat a handgun, loaded or unloaded, and I’m excited about that kind of education being available to our residents.”
Brent Horton, a Cornelius resident, said having a range nearby would make him and others safer gun owners because they wouldn’t have to drive 30 minutes or more to practice.
“In order to keep up on training and making sure we’re shooting straight, it’s best to keep it local.”
The board’s approval was only held up by a discussion of the building’s color — a mustard-shade of yellow, which several commissioners and at least one citizen were not happy with.
The board OK’d the project under the condition that the yellow be toned down, and subject to the Architectural Review Board’s approval of the final color.
The building will be about 17,000 square feet, with 25-yard shooting lanes, offices, classrooms and an area for arm sales and repair, and it is set to be open in fall 2011.
Other board news
• The board also approved an expansion of the North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital, 19126 Statesville Road, which will more than double the size of the building. Dr. John Schaff, owner of the hospital, said the expansion will bring the facility up to meet the demands of the business.
Commissioner Jim Bensman said, “The architecture is stunning and will be an outstanding addition to our community.”
• An ordinance approved by the board will prevent vehicles from parking, stopping or standing along John Hawks Road outside of J.V. Washam Elementary, or at the intersection of John Hawks and Oakbranch Lane.
Parents on either side of the issue said they were satisfied with the solution.
Andrew Grant, assistant town manager, said the ordinance does not designate a drop-off location. “We’re just saying this is where you can’t drop off. I wouldn’t doubt it if it’s not the end of this problem.”
• At the very end of the meeting, Town Manager Anthony Roberts reported that, of the $100,000 budgeted for impact bonuses, he has allocated about $90,000, leaving only about $10,000 to last until June. The bonus fund was created as a one-time reward for employees who excelled or performed beyond their call of duty.
The news surprised commissioners Dave Gilroy and Bensman, and they requested a list of the names and the bonuses given since July.