BY GABE LICHT
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, MN Delano Sportsmen’s Club will be allowed to construct three trapshooting ranges, a clubhouse, and a parking lot on the Wright County property it owns adjacent to its current location following an Aug. 9 5-2 vote by the Wright County Planning Commission, with commissioners Jan Thompson and Pat Mahlberg opposed.
The final approval took place more than five months after Mark Bauman applied for a commercial outdoor recreational conditional use permit March 8, and nearly three years after Bauman took on the project in October 2015.
“It took about a year longer than I thought it would,” Bauman said. “Every time I thought I was ready, someone else would mention something. I wanted to have everything ready, so there wouldn’t be any surprises.”
He said it felt very good to be able to see the project through to approval, and Delano Tiger Trap Team assistant coach Dan Lysne added, “This is huge. Everyone is very excited for this expansion as it will allow us to get done in much less time and allow greater team camaraderie.”
Bauman said the local high school trap team had provided the motivation to spearhead the project.
“Because there is such an interest in the trapshooting sports, I thought they need a decent place to do it,” Bauman said. “It’s 100 percent for the high school. It will be great for the club in general, but I didn’t do it for the general membership.”
After announcing to the general membership that he would be leading the project, Bauman and Delano Sportsmen’s Club President Tom Delaney hosted a neighborhood meeting.
“We wanted to hear their concerns, wanted some of their input,” Bauman said. “It was a good meeting. We didn’t change any of their minds, and they didn’t change any of our minds. Throughout the process, their input was very helpful for me. They brought up things I hadn’t thought of.”
One of the concerns was how to control the sound connected to a shooting range.
Wright County Planning Commission imposed 19 conditions, including six that could address sound concerns.
“The Delano Sportsmen’s Club must construct an earthen berm at least 11 feet high as described in the plans submitted on file,” according to one condition. “The applicant shall not construct a sound wall on top of the berm unless the Delano Sportsmen’s Club provides the Wright County Office of Planning and Zoning with a sound study showing any proposed sound wall will reduce the decibel threshold for all neighboring properties below the levels articulated in scenario two of the amended sound study dated June 27, 2018.”
Another condition allows shooting at only two of the three trap ranges at a time.
“We can get people signed up and ready to shoot on the third one, but not all can be shooting at the same time,” Bauman said. “That will help with the sound level . . . We just have to monitor it.”
Shotguns are the only firearm permitted to be discharged on the property. Furthermore, the size of shot on the trap ranges will be limited to 7.5 or smaller, with this requirement posted and the club taking steps “to ensure compliance with members and persons using the trap range.”
Amplified music will not be permitted on the property.
Finally, all hours of operation must comply with the requirements of Minnesota Statute 87A.03.
“State statute dictates you can shoot from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” Bauman said.
If that provision of statute is repealed, hours of operation will be limited, as presented in the application, to 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with no shooting Friday.
In addition to concerns about sound, neighbors also raised concerns about environmental impacts and filed a petition with the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, or EAW, which the Wright County Board, during an April 24 meeting, declined to order.
Regarding environmental concerns, conditions state “The Delano Sportsmen’s Club may install tile lines as necessary to reduce the surface runoff of water in the fallout zones towards the Crow River. If installed, all tile lines must be buried.”
Additionally, all spent shotgun shells must be cleaned up and properly disposed of daily.
Other conditions require the club to provide sufficient onsite parking for all activities, with no parking permitted on city, township, or county roads; access permits to the property must be obtained and approved by the Wright County Highway Department; at least one club representative must be on site at all times during an event or activity, and the club must provide Franklin Township officials with a phone number of a responsible person available in case of problems or emergencies; and the township board shall review the permit in August 2020, and annually thereafter unless the township determines another schedule for review.
Bauman said the club was agreeable to all conditions.
He hopes for a groundbreaking in the fall, though that might be delayed due to the planning commission considering an application for gravel and sand mining on the property, and the county board is requiring an EAW for that project.
Regardless of how much longer it takes to complete the trap ranges, Bauman is thankful for those involved with the approval process.
“I really want to thank the planning commission for their thoroughness and patience with us,” Bauman said. “They have a thankless job.”
He also thanked Bob Russek for designing the project; Delaney for his support; Independence City Councilman Brad Spencer for providing insight from a regulatory standpoint; Dan Moonen, a recent graduate who provided a student’s perspective; and Desiree van Sytzama, who organized support for the trap ranges.
“I’m sure I’m forgetting some people,” Bauman said.
Lysne thanked the club and others for support of the team.
“We are very grateful to the Delano Sportsmen’s Club, Delano School District, Delano community, and the countless hours of our volunteers for supporting our program and our kids,” Lysne said.
He believes the new ranges will help the team in a variety of ways.
“This will allow our team to be more competitive while shooting at a facility comparable to all the other teams,” Lysne said. “It will provide a safer environment, as we will not be as rushed as we are today with only one trap range. With only one range, we feel we are pushing our kids too fast, and we all know mistakes happen when things are rushed.”