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Planned women’s shelter to get new neighbor – a gun range

Washington City leaders say side-by-side facilities don’t pose a problem, issue a conditional permit.

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She also told the Planning Commission that for other people living in the area, which includes homes and apartments, the gun shop is not a good fit.

Planning Commission Chairman Rick Schofield said during the meeting that he has donated to the foundation and has a concealed-weapons permit. He also wondered why a gun-repair shop would "come next to a facility that houses domestic violence [victims] and why they would want to create a shooting range," according to the minutes.

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"He stated if there was a halfway house for pedophiles and a day care wanted to come in, it would bother him as much as a facility dealing with domestic violence next to a shooting range … it just doesn’t make sense," according to the minutes.

In the end, the Planning Commission voted 3-2 to deny the permit. Barely a week later, the mayor and City Council, acting as the appeal authority, granted it. The authority was working as a "quasi-judicial" body, meaning there was no testimony, and its decision cannot be administratively appealed. A yearly compliance review will be required.

As the council convened, Sue Kimball said, Councilman Ron Truman said he believed in the Second Amendment, the right to a trained militia and "the right to carry [weapons] everywhere, at any time, under any condition."

Victims of violence » Sue Kimball, who is Erin KImball’s stepmother, went to graduate school after Erin and her children — a 3-year-old and an infant — were killed near the Salt Lake City International Airport.

She was working at a regional domestic-violence center when she "realized how critical housing was — it’s a choice of going back to violence or living on the street," she said.

With funding from the federal Housing and Urban Development, the Justice Department, the Eccles Foundation, the Daniels Fund, Allstate Insurance, individuals and civil and religious organization, the Kimballs bought the house on Telegraph Street.

What did surprise her, she said, was that in considering a community development block grant (CDBG), the City Council asked what the foundation does and who it serves "and were strongly supportive of us building this property."

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The council sponsored the foundation for a $150,000 federal grant, said Councilman Thad Seegmiller.

Kirk Smith, a former Washington County sheriff and a veteran of the Utah Highway Patrol, sits on the board of the Erin Kimball Foundation. He worries about the indoor shooting range but fears more an accidental firearm discharge outside the shop, which is near schools, a Wal-Mart and other businesses and residential areas.

"I don’t know how you can bulletproof the parking lot," Smith said. "You could have an accidental discharge. Even in an environment with professional people, things do happen, even in the safest conditions.

Moreover, Smith added, the issue is not about the Second Amendment, as Truman suggested before the Appeal Authority meeting.

"I would never challenge their personal opinions," Smith said. "Maybe it’s more of a fear of being thought to be opposed to the Second Amendment. But I could be wrong."

"We want something better. The Erin Foundation offers peace and help," he said. "It hurts when you hear other people who think target practice is more important."

Seegmiller said the council has decided to review Dixie GunWorx’s conditional-use permit every year, but he believes the gunfire won’t be heard.

"If there are safety or noise concerns down the road," Seegmiller said, "we would have to address their conditional-use permit."

As for the Erin Kimball Foundation, he said, "we see value in the fund and the good that they do. We strive to be business-friendly. It’s hard making decisions on what’s compatible and what’s not. We hope both entities contribute to the city in their own right."

On Friday, foundation leaders filed a lawsuit against the City Council over its approval of the range, calling it "illegal, arbitrary and capricious, and not based on substantial evidence."

The Kimballs are asking the 5th District Court in Cedar City to reverse that decision.

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