Planning commission approves shooting range

Susanville’s Planning Commission approved the architectural and site plan review, allowing the construction of a retail store with an indoor shooting range in close proximity to the veteran’s clinic serving those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

City planner Marlin Johnson was present at the commission’s May 28 meeting and told the commission because it was determined that a use permit was not required, there was no public hearing on the matter, but that it should be presented to the commission.

The indoor shooting range, to be named Patriot Gun Range, is projected to be an 18,000 square-foot building that includes a retail store and training facility on Johnstonville Road facing Bella Way.

The plans require a sign off by the chief of the fire department, the chief of police and public works.

Lisa Howard, the director of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Sierra Nevada Health Care System wrote a letter to the city planner Marlin Johnson which was passed on to the commission.

“Many of the veterans visiting the clinic are coping with (PTSD) symptoms,” wrote Howard.

The close proximity of the shooting range would negatively impact patients who “have experienced combat, work and/or personal traumas related to shooting” and “compromise the psychological safety of our clinicians and support staff in Susanville, many whom are veterans,” said Howard.

Johnson told the commission that it was because of the staff’s aggressive solicitation of input that they received this letter from the department. Johnson mentioned they reached out to the County’s Veterans service office in regards to the VA Diamond Mountain outpatient clinic, as early as March 29. At the time those they spoke with had no comment.

Howard recommended the indoor shooting range include significant noise abatement insulation in the building to minimize any adverse impact to the clinic.

Planning commission documents show that in order to obtain approval for construction, the site specifications determine that the building maintain a maximum noise level of 70 decibels at the VA clinic’s property line.

Commission vice president Wayne Jambois thought the level of noise might still be too high.

This standard itself was achieved through staff harvesting language from the VA and reaching out to other entities to review city codes on the subject. Johnson told the commission the requirement was essentially taken from similar language as recycling facilities.

According to Purdue, this is the same noise level of 70 decibels is the same as a vacuum cleaner or the sound of a passenger car going 65 mph, 25 feet from you.

This concern also led to the minimal setback of 75 feet from the front of the building to Bella Way lot line.

The plans were passed with an amendment containing language around the subject of the fire chief’s sign-off. Jeff Morrison, the project’s engineer, shared limitations and difficulties with being able to sufficiently work with the demands.

Morrison shared that the fire department requires there be a turn-around in the business’ parking lot on the Johnstonville Road side, a circumstance that “could be an expensive proposition,” said Morrison.

Morrison hoped to be able to work toward another solution, whether it be an emergency access road around the building or putting the parking on the east side of the building. The commission, after some discussion, entertained Morrison’s request and added the language.