Back 40 Gun Range approved by council

Parker gives green light to firing, archery facility

Posted 4/9/19

The Back 40 Gun Range received approval of its “use by special review” request from the Parker Town Council April 1, allowing the gun and archery range to move into the Parker Homestead …

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Back 40 Gun Range approved by council

Parker gives green light to firing, archery facility

Posted

The Back 40 Gun Range received approval of its “use by special review” request from the Parker Town Council April 1, allowing the gun and archery range to move into the Parker Homestead neighborhood despite contention over the proposed location.

The Back 40 Gun Range will be fully constructed within 2 1/2 years from when it begins, according to the site's applicant, Rion Buswell, a Parker resident. Following the approval of a site-area plan, the range will begin construction in the Parker Homestead neighborhood on the northwest corner of the Chambers Road and Double Angel Road intersection.

After a 4 1/2-hour meeting April 1, council approved the proposal 4-2, the two opposed coming from councilmembers Cheryl Poage and Jeff Toborg. Fifty-three people came to the lectern voicing their opinions both for and against the proposal. There were 27 people in favor of the request and 26 opposed.

Buswell said he intends for the range to promote community as well as gun and archery education and training.

“At the end of the day, there are law-abiding citizens wanting to use the facility," Buswell said. “Why not give them a place to feel comfortable to bring their families in, train and educate and be able to hang out and enjoy the place?"

Buswell, originally from Iowa, grew up on a 130-year-old family farm. When he left his corporate career in 2016, he looked for opportunities in Parker.

“It's made the facility better addressing the concerns over the past years,” Buswell said. “It's been a long journey and I do believe I've done as best a job I can to address those concerns.”

Those opposed to the approval of the gun range were mostly against the proposed site, which is near Double Angel Ballpark, EchoPark Stadium, several homes and is one mile north of Gold Rush Elementary. Most who opposed the request for approval were in favor of having a gun range come to Parker, just not where it was proposed.

Emily Suyat, of Parker, is opposed to the council's decision to approve the request and said she believes the gun range will bring fear to an area frequented by young kids and teenagers. Suyat said these kids are part of “generation lockdown” and are more wary of guns.

Several local students spoke on behalf of student groups against the gun range's location.

“Our entire point was the location is bad, and it just seems like common sense that the location is bad,” Suyat said. “There are students that testified and asked us to help them. They asked us to protect them, and we failed them.”

Buswell said he exhausted all possible options for the gun range's location and said the Chambers property owner was the only one willing to divide the land in the unique shape the building required. The area is zoned commercial. Some opposed to the request suggested it be moved to an area zoned industrial.

Buswell and his consultants answered many of the concerns residents had, including the possibility of worsening air quality, gunshot sounds being heard in the neighborhood and criminals targeting the building.

The shooting range will have a rubber backstop to contain the bullets. There is a limit on the size of bullet allowed at the gun range. Fifty-caliber bullets will not be allowed, Buswell said.

A heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be installed in the range and will filter the air of harmful chemicals emitted from shooting. As a condition to the approval of the request, town staff required the gun range to be in accordance with applicable codes of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

The Parker Police Department has stated it does not have any additional safety concerns about the gun range at this time.

“As site plans and procedures are developed and presented, we will be part of the review process along with other departments within the town and external agencies,” said Chief David King. “The safety of EchoPark and surrounding neighborhoods and all Parker residents will be of primary importance throughout the process.”

As part of the “use by special review” request, Wave Engineering, the contracted engineering consultant on the request, found the decibel level for the area reached from 52 to 56 decibels on average. The consultant reported the Back 40 Gun Range will not exceed 45 decibels, comparing the sound being heard outside being similar to a car door shutting.

In order to be granted a “use by special review,” the applicant had to have met nine criteria. Councilmember John Diak voted to approve the request, satisfied with responses to his concerns regarding the building's harmony with the area and the potential for air and noise pollution. Diak said the facility would fit in to the recreational feel of the area.

“I can't get to a denial. All my questions have been answered, and based on the criteria and question at hand, I have to support this proposal,” Diak said.

Buswell said, at this point, there's still a long way to go.

“It's mixed emotions at this point,” Buswell said. “Yes I'm excited it can move forward and to know it can happen, but at the same time the doors aren't open.”

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