Elgin says 'no' to plans for gun range
The Elgin City Council turned down on Wednesday plans for a proposed gun shop and shooting range opposed by neighbors, but there is a chance the issue could resurface in two weeks.
Mark Glavin of Wayne wanted to open Fox Valley Shooting Club, a $4.5 million or so venture in a 23,000-square-foot vacant space at 780 S. McLean Blvd.
Nearly 20 people spoke in opposition of the plan, citing concerns about increased traffic and noise, and declining property values. Resident Jessica Strauss said it's "inappropriate" to have a gun range adjacent to a residential neighborhood.
Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, which provides services to children with developmental delays and disabilities, and a preschool program run by Elgin Area School District U-46, are nearby. Easter Seals CEO Theresa Forthofer and U-46 CEO Tony Sanders also spoke against the gun range plans, which they said would negatively affect the children.
Mayor David Kaptain and council members Tish Powell, John Prigge, Carol Rauschenberger and Toby Shaw voted against the plan. Council members Rose Martinez, Terry Gavin and John Steffen voted in favor. Councilman Rich Dunne was absent.
However, any of the council members in the majority vote could make a motion to the reconsider at the next meeting April 26, when Prigge ends his term and a new council member -- Corey Dixon -- takes the oath of office. Council members on Wednesday specifically asked that question of Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley.
At the start of the discussion Wednesday, Kaptain asked council members to table the motion and wait for a resolution of pending Senate Bill 1657, the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which would prevent gun ranges from being located within 500 feet of any school, preschool or day care facility. Existing gun dealerships would be grandfathered in.
The gun range opponents said the gun range is 100 feet from the Easter Seals and U-46 educational uses. Marc Mylott, director of community development, said the distance between the buildings is 225 feet.
Rauschenberger pointed out that liquor can't be sold within 100 feet of a school, but it would be OK to sell guns.
"I would assume that a lot more damage was done to our communities, broken families and such, due to alcohol," Shaw replied.
The gun range would have catered to women -- a growing market among shooting enthusiasts -- with an aesthetically pleasing, family-friendly environment.
Resident Joy Symonds said she and fellow young mothers were planning a night out at the gun range. "This is one of the first things I've seen in a long time that got me excited about a new business coming to Elgin," she said. The owners of Nella's Beef at 818 S McLean Blvd. said they would welcome the gun range, which would bring more activity to the area.
Glavin submitted a petition with more than 90 signatures in support to the planning and zoning commission, which recommended approval of the plan last month.
Glavin said he's already invested about $100,000 in the venture. "I am disappointed," he said. "I think that there were a lot of emotional votes."