Oak Park Heights to consider approving massive gun range Aug. 25

A gun range and retail store proposed in Oak Park Heights would dwarf the range proposed for the Simonet’s Furniture building on Curve Crest Boulevard in Stillwater.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, the Oak Park Heights City Council will consider approving a 38-lane shooting range with 8,500 square feet of retail space, plus classrooms. The range would be housed in 49,000-square-foot building to be constructed on Memorial Avenue North, south of Stillwater Motors, and across Stillwater Boulevard from Stillwater Area High School.

A similar but smaller range is being considered by the Stillwater City Council for the Simonet’s Furniture building nearby at the corner of Curve Crest Boulevard and Washington Avenue. The proposed Stillwater facility would have 14 shooting lanes and a retail area of about 7,500 square feet, housed in a nearly 27,000-square-foot structure. The Stillwater range has generated controversy, and the Stillwater council tabled the issue Aug. 18 and will consider it again Sept. 1. Minnesota Shooting Academy, the group behind the Stillwater proposal, previously obtained approval for a facility in Oak Park Heights, but financing fell through.

The currently proposed range in Oak Park Heights would be called Range 082 Indoor Shooting. According to the application submitted by Lorene Clark, it would be a “one-of-a-kind indoor shooting range and retail destination.” In addition to its five shooting bays (containing 10 rifle, 10 training and 18 pistol shooting lanes), the facility would offer “a wide variety of merchandise, including unique and high-end items not generally offered at other sporting goods outlets.” It would also have a library/technical center and concessions. Classes ranging from beginner safety and personal defense to advanced marksmanship and tactical would be available.

The Oak Park Heights City Council is being asked to approve a lot subdivision, as well as a site plan for the facility. According to city staff reports, the gun range is a permitted use in the zoning district, and staff is recommending approval with conditions.