March 11, 2022 at 10:06 a.m.
The Chisago County Planning Commission had been directed by the County Board in September 2020 to develop standards and address shooting ranges for areas where the county provides land use controls.
Municipalities would not fall under these rules.
Although existing local gun clubs are mainly under city regulation currently (Chisago City, Harris, Wyoming) there was concern that the clubs’ activity would halt if the clubs ever had to relocate.
Warren Lucina Chair of Gopher Rifle & Revolver Club in Harris, said the ordinance as worded was a “defacto ban on new gun ranges.”
Steve Petschel said the county should actually be promoting well run ranges as they offer a safe place to discharge firearms compared to “backyard” shooting, which will become the only option if the county proceeds. Under the cost-prohibitive standards described in the proposed ordinance, no new facility can be built, he added.
Other speakers— who gave addresses ranging from Mora, to Pine City to Burnsville and Champlin, spoke on the ordinance being confusing, unsubstantiated and unclear. From the Sunrise Township Board, Pete Johnson said most of the county’s concerns are already in federal law.
After hearing from speakers for over an hour there was a motion to close the hearing but it failed, and the planning moderator went back to calling out names from the sign up list. The planning commission finally was able to have a discussion about 90 minutes after the hearing opened.
Commissioner David Whitney assured the audience he had tried to connect with representatives of gun clubs for planning commission tours and was not successful. This was in response to multiple complaints that nobody from the planning commission had visited local facilities.
Jim McCarthy acknowledged the ordinance is “not perfect” but added, that it is not a “firearms” rights issue. The county is only exercising its authority to regulate land use. “Is there a law that says we lost our authority to do that?” he wondered.
Jolene Wille stated she’d like to re-look at the whole thing.
Kelly Corbin stated the ordinance needs to be understandable and readable and she felt it was neither.
John Sutcliffe felt he’d “heard enough” and wanted to keep working on the ordinance.
Then, commissioners appeared to start down the road of changing wording line-by-line beginning with what speakers called an egregiously large land area requirement.
It was explained the County Board had requested expanding the minimum area after reviewing a preliminary ordinance in the fall of 2021.
Whitney motioned to reduce the shotgun range size standard from 160 to 40 acres, which passed with McCarthy opposed.
But, then Frank Storm motioned to hold a work session just on this ordinance and all commission members approved. The date and time was being reviewed and schedules checked. Watch the Press for an update.