Boise Planning and Zoning denies shooting-range permit

sberg@idahostatesman.comAugust 13, 2013 

The Boise Police Department’s firing range sits in the Foothills a couple of miles north of Downtown — in an area that boasts several trails popular with hikers and bikers. There’s never been a recorded gun-related accident at the range, but that doesn’t mean it’s not on the minds of people who use the trails. “When they’re firing down there, when you’re up above going across on the trails, which are just outside the fence, it gets your attention,” said neighbor Roger Michener.


In the end, Planning and Zoning commissioners’ 4-2 vote Monday night might not matter much.

They might believe the Boise Police Department’s shooting range near the end of Mountain Cove Road (scroll to bottom of story for map of range's location) clashes with the growing recreational use of the surrounding Foothills, but that’s beside the point. The range has been in existence since 1960, so planners don’t have many options for shutting it down.

“It’s already there, and it’s not going to go away by any action we can take,” Commissioner Milt Gillespie said.

Furthermore, the police department’s legal counsel has concluded the city is exempt from standard permitting requirements, Capt. Randy Roper said. Boise engaged in the process only as a gesture to people who live near the range, Roper said.

He said the city would appeal the commission’s decision.

Most of the people who spoke at Monday’s meeting were against the proposal to add three shooting lanes, a 30-foot shooting tower and a 360-degree range for scenario training. They didn’t believe the proposal did enough to reduce noise from gunfire and worried it would make the area less safe.

Don Reiman, who spoke for a group of dissenters, focused on proposed backstops he believes are inadequate to keep stray bullets from flying out of the range.

P&Z Commissioner Karen Meyer described the range as “a ticking bomb,” though there’s never been a reported accident due to stray bullets from it.

Other people who spoke at Monday’s meeting said it’s simply time for the range to go the way of the Old Penitentiary north of Warm Springs Road.

“The city’s grown up around this place,” said Edward Squires, who lives with his wife, Suzanne, about a half-mile south of the range. “It’s not a safe place to have a range anymore.”

View Boise Foothills shooting range in a larger map

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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