The Bangor City Council has approved new rules that allow indoor commercial gun ranges to open in the city and limit how residents can use private gun ranges on their own property.
Bangor residents have previously been allowed to use guns for hunting or non-commercial target practice in more rural parts of the city, but the city did not specifically allow commercial shooting ranges until the council approved the new rules on Monday night.
The city developed the new rules over the last eight months after receiving complaints from residents who live near a private shooting range owned by Kevin Schmersal on Pushaw Road.
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It will take 10 days for the new rules to take effect, according to Paul Nicklas, the assistant city solicitor who helped develop them. He’s not currently aware of any commercial indoor ranges operating in the city, but said that the Bangor Police Department does have an indoor range that it uses for target practice.
The city probably would have developed the rules earlier, but has not received any applications from businesses wanting to open a range, Nicklas said.
Under the changes, commercial indoor gun ranges can now be opened in the city as long as they adhere to standards developed by the federal General Services Administration, receive approval from the city and are located in areas zoned for general commercial and service use.
However, the new rules would not allow an outdoor commercial gun range to open in Bangor
The changes also place limits on how people can use private firing ranges at their homes. The ranges can only be used between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and only for one, two-hour period each day. In addition, the new rules only allow up to three non-relatives in the shooting area at a time.
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The rules also bar the owners of those private ranges from receiving any money for target shooting.
For Schmersal to keep operating his shooting range on Pushaw Road without violating city codes, he will now have to follow those rules, Nicklas said.
Schmersal, who spoke against the proposed changes during a March 19 meeting of the council’s Business and Economic Development Committee, said on Tuesday that city councilors had “overreached their authority on every level imaginable” by placing limits on how residents can use firearm ranges on their own land.
He also said the rules make it cost-prohibitive to open a commercial firearm range, given all the expenses of building an indoor range.
Schmersal also said that he plans to keep operating his private firearm range and is not concerned about violating the new rules.