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Herriman • An outdoor shooting range close to two schools is under consideration in the hills above Herriman where two fires have destroyed six homes in two years.
With standing room only, more than 100 residents were attended the Herriman City Council meeting Thursday night, and more than 800 viewed the meeting online.
City staff made a one-hour presentation on what the proposed 50-acre gun range would bring to the city in economic development and exposure for gun clubs and explained how the city would limit fire danger.
The public comment of more than 30 residents went past 11 p.m.
Some residents who commented didn't believe any of the benefits of the range were worth the increased fire danger, stray bullets, increased noise and impact on property values.
"I have spoken with neighbors, and we are unanimous in being very much against an open gun range," said Jana Collingridge, adding that the range isn't worth the safety risk for families. "The proximity to the school seems borderline ridiculous."
Those who live in the Desert Sage and Juniper Point subdivisions weren't supportive of the range, and some complained they had only heard about the project.
"The lack of transparency of this whole issue is appalling," said Kenny Thomas.
Planning commission minutes stated a conditional-use permit to build the gun range on the 50 acres was approved Oct. 18, and city officials said the issue had been in discussion for at least a year.
The city had also prepared a proposal for the range to be signed at Thursday's meeting.
Resident Bob Stanford said he loves guns but doesn't understand the location choice at roughly 4300 West and 15300 South, according to city minutes.
"I'm a gun owner, I'm a gun enthusiast," Stanford said. "I believe in Second Amendment rights. I can't comprehend why the city is driven to put this so close to residential areas that aren't even developed yet."
Residents also asked if City Council members would build a shooting range in their neighborhoods.
Some residents did support the shooting range.
"I am pro for building a range to prevent fires," said Noah Crovo.
Monte Johnson presented the benefits of the range and said a $1.5 million land donation made it possible. When residents pressed City Council members to reveal who donated the land, staff refused to comment.
"What it boils down to is people are going to shoot whether it is legal or not," Johnson said, adding that the city might as well create a safe environment for shooting.
A dirt berm would be landscaped to reduce sound, grass would be cut short and the area would be landscaped. Johnson also recommended that tracer rounds or exploding targets not be allowed. He said that, once developed, the range would protect residents from fires, but added, "the nice thing is this is not too far from our fire station."
If approved, it would take at least a year before the range was built.
Previously the city looked at a property higher up the mountain, but plans fell through, so the current location was chosen.
Herriman Mayor Josh Mills has been a Utah concealed weapons permit instructor for the past five years for ZDI tactical and Utah CFP, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The 2010 Machine Gun Fire, a 4,326-acre fire, was sparked by gunfire during a live-fire training session at the Camp Williams shooting range on a red-flag warning day with 40 mph winds. The fire cost about $5 million to fight and destroyed two homes and ruined other property.
The National Guard ended up paying $4 million in claims to more than 1,000 Herriman residents.
The RoseCrest Fire destroyed four Herriman homes, damaged several others and cost $529,000 to fight. The costs for reseeding was $150,000. The federal government typically pays for 75 percent of the cost, however the city and county share the remainder of the burden.