Shooting range plan draws concerns from neighbors

Residents of a southeast Oklahoma City neighborhood say a shooting range on public land near their homes threatens the environment, is a bad financial deal and will be noisy.
BY WILLIAM CRUM wcrum@opubco.com Published: February 15, 2013

Dave Martin wants his business to be a good neighbor.

It can be hard to catch a break, though, when gunfire is involved.

That's why his shooting range drew complaints last year from neighbors near its present location and, now, is drawing complaints from neighbors near where the city wants him to move.

Carolyn Pimsler, who lives in an idyllic setting in southeast Oklahoma City, has nothing against guns.

She just wants Martin to keep his distance.

On one hand, it could be seen as another case of NIMBY — “not in my backyard.”

On the other, Pimsler and her neighbors have compiled — literally — a box load of reasons for why they think Martin's shooting range belongs someplace besides public land near their homes.

Chief among them are the potential for contamination from lead shot and the nearly $117,000 it's costing the city to renegotiate Martin's lease.

So Oklahoma City Council member Pete White is facing complaints about the range for the second time since it opened a year ago on 260 acres along SE 149 east of Air Depot Boulevard.

A proposal to relocate the range to 160 acres on SE 119 — about a mile from Pimsler's neighborhood — is on hold while White waits for Tinker Air Force Base to respond to a plan for a potential site farther from Pimsler but closer to the approach to Tinker runways.

“If I can make it better and make people believe it's better, I'm going to do it,” White said.

White leads the Water Utilities Trust, which oversees the West Elm Creek Reservation, public land west of Lake Stanley Draper that's scheduled to one day be a reservoir.

Quail Ridge Sporting Clays leased reservation land and opened last February.

Martin offers several shotgun sports, including trap shooting, that simulate bird hunting.

Sporting clays re-creates a variety of hunting situations over a course laid out in a field; moving from station to station often is compared to golf.

Quail Ridge hosts a Society of Petroleum Engineers league and hosted the 2012 State Sporting Clays Championship.

Its competitive advantage is its location — closer to downtown than ranges in El Reno, Guthrie, Arcadia and Shawnee.

Neighbors' complaints

White acknowledges the process that led to allowing Quail Ridge to open on SE 149 was flawed.

An “antiquated” ordinance didn't require enough notice to neighbors, the course faced the wrong direction, and with the traffic volume on SE 149, options were few, he said.

Within weeks, neighbors were complaining publicly about the noise.

Quail Ridge hosted a meeting; Martin offered to move.

The latest flap began when the Water Utilities Trust settled on a new site near the Meadowlakes neighborhood off SE 104 east of Sooner Road.

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