PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners are forming a gun range committee to come up with recommendations for regulations to govern gun ranges in the county.
After receiving numerous complaints from neighboring residential and business owners, commissioners issued a 30-day cease-and-desist order for the Sundowner Gun Range.
Prosecutor Jason Wharton also sent a letter to the owner of the Sundowner, inviting him and his client to again meet with the commission prior to the end of the 30-day period.
Wood County commissioners Wayne Dunn, Steve Gainer and Blair Couch have decided to form a committee to come up with recommendations for gun range regulations. (Photo by Pamela Brust)
In addition to unanimously voting to issue the cease-and-desist order, the commissioners asked Wharton to gather examples of regulations from other areas. Wharton provided those regulations to the commission last week.
The county commission has authority under state code to implement provisions when it is determined there is a need to eliminate "hazards to public health and safety."
Under W.Va. Code 7-1-3kk, the county commission has authority to enact ordinances for the elimination of hazards to public health and safety and to abate anything which the commission determines to be public nuisance. The commissioners were also provided with copies of state code that limit "nuisance actions for noise" by residents who move into an area where there is an already established gun range.
The commissioners have said they will hold public hearings on whatever is proposed, whether it is required or not.
"There are a number of different regulations, some are very detailed, fairly complete, a good guideline. They looked good to me," commission President Wayne Dunn said of the regulations provided from other areas. "We need broad representation on the committee working on these recommendations."
"I think the overriding goal of the commission is to provide a safe environment for those involved with shooting sports and create a trip wire at the county level so if someone wants to open up a gun range, we would be notified," Commissioner Blair Couch said.
Greg Smith, who noted he has gun ranges on his private property, noted the commission might first ascertain a definition for "gun range."
"There are private ranges and public ones, there is a whole bunch of variables out there and I think establishing a definition would be paramount," Smith said.
"We also need a census of the ranges that are out there, we don't currently have that," Couch said.
The committee is to come up with the recommendations for the commission.
"It's up to the county commission to make the decisions," Wharton said.