Washington City women’s shelter sues over shooting range next door
Courts • Foundation sues Washington City over its approval of a firearms store.
Published: August 31, 2013 06:08PM
Updated: February 14, 2014 11:33PM

The leaders of a Washington City foundation that counsels and shelters victims of domestic violence have sued the City Council for its approval of an indoor shooting range next door to one of its facilities.

In the suit filed Friday, Sue Kimball, co-founder and executive director of the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation, and her husband, Don Kimball, contend the council’s approval of the range “was illegal, arbitrary and capricious, and not based on substantial evidence.”

The Kimballs are asking the 5th District Court in Cedar City to reverse the approval of the range. Calls to Dixie GunWorx on Saturday were not immediately returned.

The Kimballs are renovating a 5,000-square-foot home on Telegraph Avenue that will have foundation offices and meeting rooms on the first floor and three apartments on the second floor. They hope to open by Thanksgiving.

Dixie GunWorx, a gunsmith shop, sought approval for a retail firearms store and a shooting range with 11 lanes, one for tactical weaponry.

The Planning Commission voted against the shooting range. But the City Council, while serving as the city’s appeals authority in closed session on July 23, reversed that decision and issued its written ruling on Aug. 2.

The Kimballs lost their daughter, Erin, and her two small children in 1983, when her husband shot and killed them and then himself. They established the Kimball foundation in 1999 as a nonprofit that provides transitional housing and support services for homeless women and children.

Since then, the foundation has given shelter to about 160 women and 370 children for more than 200,000 nights; given support services to about 200 families and referred some 12,000 people to other services, the lawsuit said.

The owners of Dixie GunWorx have said noise from the firing range would be equivalent only to that of the four-lane street that the shop and the Kimball home face. The Kimballs contend that assertion “demonstrates the proposed shooting range will cause damage to the general well-being of the neighborhood and … be detrimental to the mental health and general welfare of those residing, visiting or working at the foundation.”

They also say the sound of gunfire, no matter how loud, would be traumatic to children in the home’s outdoor playground and that those living and working there “may experience severe trauma and distress by even the faint sounds of gunfire.”

Dixe GunWorx has said the sounds would be carefully managed with sound baffles inside the range and landscaping outside to keep the noise down.