Concerns about indoor shooting range in Cranberry are allayed

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Plans for an indoor shooting range in Cranberry are moving ahead despite initial opposition to the project from some neighbors and township officials.

Cranberry planning director Ron Henshaw said the developers involved with the shooting academy were able to “turn things around” and win the unanimous support of the township’s planning advisory commission Monday.

That turn-around involved removing an archery range from the plans and providing the township with evidence of sound mitigation.

“We’re very satisfied now, and staff will be recommending approval along with the [planning commission’s OK of the plans],” Mr. Henshaw said.

Township supervisors will vote on the plans at a public meeting, most likely April 1 or May 1. Meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. in the Rochester Road municipal complex.

Mr. Henshaw said township officials have been supportive of the concept since the group of three partners, led by Dave Gemperle of Cranberry, approached the township with the idea. “It’s another recreational opportunity for our residents, and we’re always looking for those kinds of opportunities,” Mr. Henshaw said.

He said  officials were aware that the developers were looking for a site in Cranberry last year, which ultimately led to a contractual agreement to buy from Dominic Gigliotti two contiguous parcels covering about 23 acres north of the township’s Route 19 fire station and adjacent to the township’s public works building. The land is in a commercial zoning district, south of an auto body shop but with residences nearby.

Plans were submitted Dec. 5 for three buildings. The main structure — 142,755 square feet — would house shooting ranges, rooms for safety classes and a breakfast/lunch counter. Some retail sales for firearms and ammunition would be transacted on the site. Behind the main building and connected to it by a concrete tunnel would be underground shooting ranges up to about 800 feet long. The underground building would be about 6,000 square feet.

The rest of the development would be built in a second phase: a building of about 21,000 square feet with plans for a 5,000-square-foot addition. More shooting ranges and classrooms would be in the second building.

The initial red flag on the project was the plan for an outdoor archery range that would extend over a hill toward the township’s property, with shooting that could occur in both north and south directions. “To the north, there are houses and to the south is the [township’s] park and public works building,” Mr. Henshaw said. Both township officials and neighbors were concerned about arrow control.

After some discussion with the developers, the archery component of the project was removed. That decision was relayed to township officials in late February. “That was our No. 1 issue,” Mr. Henshaw said.

The second area of concern was the proposal for sound dampening. “We don’t want residents to hear ‘pop, pop, pop.’ We want to know that our sound ordinance is going to be met,” Mr. Henshaw said.

That issue was resolved Monday when the developers presented a plan for sound mitigation that can be certified by an acoustics engineer.

Mr. Henshaw said he expects the project to move forward without objection now.

“In general, it’s a good use of the property. We think a lot of our residents will be interested. From the beginning, we’ve wanted to see this on a path toward success so long as there were no issues of concern for residents in regard to safety or [nuisances]. We’re comfortable now with things as they stand,” he said.

Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.

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