'We do not want this in Long Grove': Gun shop proposal prompts opposition email campaign
A plan to construct an indoor shooting range and gun store in Long Grove has prompted opponents to flood village officials with emails.
Village Manager Greg Jackson on Friday said he's received more than 400 emails about the proposal for a Range USA shop. Dozens were sent to other officials, too -- and nearly all were against it.
Jackson, who's worked in Long Grove about a year, said he's never gotten so many emails about one topic in town. Aside from when a vehicle hits the covered bridge on Robert Parker Coffin Road, emails about local issues number in the single digits at most, he said.
"There haven't been any hot-button issues come up like this," he said.
A Range USA representative couldn't be reached.
The store and range are proposed for about 1.7 acres on Old Hicks Road north of Lake-Cook Road. The undeveloped land is part of the Menards property.
Formerly known as Shoot Point Blank, Cincinnati-based Range USA has stores in 10 states. In Illinois, shops can be found in Hanover Park, Naperville, Villa Park and three other locations.
The Long Grove plan surfaced at a village board meeting in November. The developer, ComptonAddy, fancies a 14,933-square-foot building with 20 shooting lanes, a retail area and classrooms.
After some discussion at that November meeting, trustees referred the matter to the plan commission, which advises the board on development and zoning issues.
The property is zoned for certain retail uses, and gun sales and a shooting range are not among them. So, ComptonAddy has requested village officials change the zoning rules to allow firearms-related uses on such properties under certain circumstances, to allow them specifically on the Menards property, and to grant a permit for such a business.
The plan commission discussed the proposal Tuesday. Range USA representatives and several audience members spoke about the plan, Jackson said.
Wanting to get more input from the public, plan commissioners said they'd continue the discussion Sept. 6.
Since Tuesday, village leaders have received emails from people in Long Grove, Lake Zurich, Crystal Lake, Highland Park, Chicago and other communities who are concerned about the plan, Jackson said.
Many referred to the recent mass shooting in Highland Park. Range USA carries the model of semi-automatic rifle police say was used in that attack, which left seven dead and dozens injured.
"It is unthinkable that this is being proposed (15) miles from the Highland Park mass shooting that occurred on the 4th of July, just one month ago," wrote Erin Waitz, a Chicago resident who has six relatives who survived the deadly attack. "The idea that this gun range would also include a shop that sells assault-style weapons is the most devastating part."
Long Grove resident Lisa Kaplin emailed Jackson about the plan, too.
"We do not want this in Long Grove," she subsequently told the Daily Herald. "Truthfully, I don't want this anywhere."
Plan commission leader Helen Wilson estimated she's received about two dozen emails and a few phone calls from opponents.
Mayor Bill Jacob got dozens of emails, too, and only one was in support of the plan. The comments "will be reviewed (and) considered as part of the process," he said.
Jackson thinks he got more emails than other officials because his address was shared on social media.
Even as more emails arrived, Jackson was committed to replying to each sender.
"Every one of them deserves a response," he said.
If the plan commission makes recommendations on the desired zoning changes and permit at its Sept. 6 meeting, the village board could vote on the requests as soon as Sept. 13.