The developer of an indoor gun range and shop is moving ahead with construction efforts to remodel the former McGill manufacturing building, which near the downtown business district, following approval of three combined ordinances by the Marengo City Council, during its Apr. 23 meeting.
The 7-1 vote, with 3rd Ward Ald. Matt Keenum opposing, allotted a special-use permit with nine contingences and a parking variation, a zoning code text amendment, and an amendment to municipal code, allowing the discharge of firearms at an approved shooting range within the city.
The developer is Union-based D5 Ranges, Inc., with D5 Iron Works, Inc., and the owner listed as L.B. Marengo LLC. The property, located at 131 E. Prairie St., was formally owned by the Marengo United Methodist Church, at 119 E. Washington St., one block away. It still owns property adjacent to the coming gun range that was planned for additional parking by church members. It also operates Parent’s Day Out, a before- and after-school program.
“At the time of the property sale, we were unaware that this would be the type of business operating at that location,” said Pastor Doc Newcomb, of the church. He declined further comment.
According to its website, D5 Ranges, Inc., “…has been serving civilians, police forces, and military bases across the country since 1997, with complete gun range solutions that encompass facet(s) of production, from initial conception and design to fabrication, installation, and complete outfitting of ranges and shoot houses…we are a structural steel fabrication and installation company as well as range outfitter and service provider.”
A public hearing convened during the April 16 Marengo Planning and Zoning Commission meeting brought owner introductions and project initiatives, and public comment questioning the business location, just off State Street and the historic downtown area. The commission approved and forwarded recommendations for city council consideration that modified the B-1 Central Business District zoning designation by adding “indoor gun range” to its language, as a special-use text amendment for permitting, along with a parking requirement variation.
The subsequent council meeting was moved to Marengo Community High School, due to an overflow crowd that exceeded capacity at the City Hall council chambers.
“The chambers holds about 150 people, and there was about 160 or more at the high school, so we had to move it, for capacity reasons,” said Josh Blakemore, Marengo’s city manager. “Most of the people spoke in favor of it, during the public comment section. At this point, it’s pretty much over, as the city council approved the special-use permit.”
The conditions included the submission of a written plan for inside and outside security with 24-hour monitoring of the parking lot; an exterior lighting plan; specific hours of operation; a National Rifle Association chief range officer, and other range safety officers on-site; and street closure compliance with city events, such as Settler’s Days.
Additionally, patrons from Illinois must have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card, and Wisconsin residents must possess a valid driver’s license.
Also, of concern, is a customer policy of zero-tolerance for being under the influence of alcohol, especially with several taverns, and alcohol-supplier restaurants and stores, within a two-block radius.
“It’s not making customers take breathalyzer tests…the condition is that the owners have to develop a customer policy regarding alcohol, and use of the range,” said Blakemore. “The other thing is the police department is right across the street.”
There was also mention of a potential agreement with the Marengo police department regarding use of the facility, and range training for its personnel. A last condition of the special-use permit is that if the business is sold, or ownership of the operation is transferred, the city must be notified immediately. Should any of the conditions be violated, the permit will be revoked.
“They still have to apply for building permits, and such, but the remodeling on the exterior and interior is already taking place, and it’s pretty significant,” Blakemore said.
Requests for comment from Richard Lindner, owner of D5 Ranges and D5 Iron Works, were not returned.
—Work on Marengo indoor gun range is underway–