Controversial location for Herriman gun range off the table
Herriman • After months of controversy, the city Thursday night ditched a proposal to put a gun range at a site where target shooters had sparked wildfires that destroyed six homes in the past two years.
With standing room only, residents packed the council chambers holding orange octagon-shaped signs or wearing stickers stating "Stop #3." The city council decided during the discussion to have the city move forward with a gun range, but not with plans for a temporary site at location three, which was within just more than a mile of homes, two elementary schools and three churches.
"We will wait until we have a permanent site as a result of fundraising issues," said Assistant City Manager Gordon Haight.
The crowd burst into cheers and applause, waving their signs, some of which council members asked to keep as a memento.
The majority of the city wanted a range, said councilman Matt Robinson, but the smaller, more vocal percentage of residents living in the Desert Sage and Juniper Point subdivisions nearest to the proposed range just didn't want it by them.
Robinson said he felt the council "did a good job listening" to residents, noting that the main emotional issue about the range was the location.
Councilman Craig Tischner said building a shooting range in Herriman "would definitely reduce" the fires the city has had.
The plan will give target shooters a controlled area to shoot, but residents living about a mile away don't want errant bullets, sounds of more than 50 shotguns firing off at once or future wildfires near them.
"I feel like, finally, we were heard," said resident Chris Nickell after the meeting.
Nickell, who bought a home in Juniper Point three months ago, said the most frustrating aspect of the issue was that some in the city thought everyone who lived in Juniper Point subdivision was anti-gun.
As a concealed-carry gun owner who grew up shooting guns, Nickell says that's not the case.
"I want a range," he told The Tribune after the meeting. "I just don't want it within one mile of my home and the elementary school where my kids go."
He says after months of discussion and public hearings "common sense prevailed."
After the meeting, council member Mike Day said he will not vote for the hotly contested location in the future.
"[Residents] can go to bed at night resting, knowing site three is off the table."
But a gun range in Herriman is most definitely not off the table for good.
The area of land that was to be donated by Rosecrest was the city's best window at getting a gun range in the city within the next one to five years.
The council unanimously expressed interest at a gun range being in Herriman, and Salt Lake County councilman Randy Horiuchi stated the county's interest in the amenity.
During the public hearing, council members discussed that finding a better location meant finding a new revenue stream to buy land farther southwest of the city center.
Millions of dollars in Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) money may be coming to the city this fall, solving the revenue problem, council members say.
A 2012 Camp Williams Joint Land Use Study put Herriman as the top priority city for receiving federal funds. It would give the city money to buy out adjacent properties bordering Camp Williams and turn a half mile width of "buffer land" into public use. The options for spending that money include making parks and trails, but also a gun range. Council members add that even with money secured, development of a gun range in a locale closer to the military base is at least beyond five years away because of a lack of access and roads to be built. The JLUS plan also has a timeline of taking care of all adjacent land by 2017.
Gun range discussion timeline
October • The planning commission granted a conditional-use permit to build a gun range on 50 acres to be donated by the James L. Sorenson family, who owns the Rosecrest development.
November • The city decided to think more about the decision after negative feedback from many residents at the hearing.
December • The city held another public hearing with 20-plus alternate locations for the range.
January • The locations were narrowed down to three, with one being the initial location and two other costly 15-20 year options near Camp Williams.