A controversial plan to bring a shooting sports facility to Bloomingdale has suffered a setback.
The village's plan commission Tuesday night voted 5-1 to recommend denial of the request by Julian Perez to convert a vacant building at 7 N. Circle Ave. into a facility that would have two pistol ranges, a rifle range and a private range.
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Now it's up to the village board to decide whether it agrees with the denial. That could happen next month.
J. Thomas Brice, plan commission chairman, said before Tuesday's vote he doesn't believe the project would be positive for neighbors living near the site. Those neighbors are urging village officials to reject the plan because they don't want a gun range close to their homes.
"I actually do think it would be positive for the village of Bloomingdale," Brice said. "I just cannot in my heart see that happening on that block so close to those homeowners."
About 200 people attended Tuesday's meeting at Bloomingdale Golf Club. Many who remained applauded the vote.
Perez said he wants to open the facility just north of the intersection of Circle Avenue and Lake Street to educate residents about gun safety. He also would offer training for gun owners trying to qualify for concealed carry permits.
Dubbed The Range Bloomingdale, the roughly 42,000-square-foot facility would have classroom areas, a retail store, a library, a museum, and on-site gun repair and cleaning services.
But neighbor Richard Turek says the facility would be too close to his home.
"Who of you would like to sit in your backyard, have a weekend barbecue and have your grandchildren play in the backyard while hearing gunshots going off 50 feet away?" Turek said.
Several neighbors said there are other sites within Bloomingdale that would be a more appropriate location for the facility.
"We are neighbors, voters, taxpayers, and feel that it will be nothing more than a nuisance business in that location," Turek said. "Please do not let this happen to us."
Despite the neighbors' claims about noise, a consultant hired by Perez concluded that the ventilation equipment would create noise that's at or slightly below ambient levels. The consultant also said the sound of gunshots would be well below the ambient sound levels.
"You will not hear any gunshots," Perez said Tuesday.
Because the entrance to the site is off Circle Avenue, neighbors said they were worried the flow of vehicles in and out of the property could be a threat to kids and other pedestrians. But village officials said trees around the exit can be removed to improve the line of sight for motorists.
Village employees also verified a traffic study that concluded the area could handle the number of cars and trucks the facility would generate. Neighbors had argued the facility would be so busy that it could create traffic problems.
In addition, Perez agreed to increase the number of spaces in the parking lot to 94. He also said he's willing to add more spaces in the future.
In fact, Perez said he will immediately respond and correct any problems that might arise.
"I don't want any tension," he said. "I'm going to be a good neighbor. I'm going to stand by my word and do what I need to do to make sure it gets done."
Meanwhile, there were a number of people who voiced support for the proposal, including Michael Pape of Elmhurst.
"I grew up shooting," Pape said. "And I think the best thing you can have is a safe place where people can go that's regulated, controlled and taught by experienced instructors."