NORTH SMITHFIELD – Members of the North Smithfield Planning Board gave a positive recommendation last week to a proposal by MTR Guns and Ammo owner Robert Houle to expand the Quaker Highway shop to accommodate a new indoor shooting range.
The project must now go before the Zoning Board, where Houle is seeking approval of two special use permits and a dimensional variance for the expansion of the business.
Houle opened the store, just by the Massachusetts border, in 2017, as an addition to his machine shop business at the same location. Now, he says he’s hoping to phase out the machine shop and add on to the existing structure at 229 Quaker Highway and install a 105-foot-long gun range.
“I’m going to keep a couple of machines for repairs,” Houle told planners at a meeting last week. “There will be some classrooms in there so we can give safety courses,”
The 11 or 12 lane range would require Houle to square off the existing roughly 8,000-square-foot building with a 20 X 46 foot addition, according to a preliminary plan for the project submitted by Marc Nyberg from Insite Engineering Services. The plan will require a special use permit for indoor recreation in an industrial zone, and because the property is within a water supply overlay district. A dimensional variance would also be needed to for the rear set back of the structure.
The 1.16 acre property is owned by RTM Realty, and also houses Atlantic Footcare and Empire Motorsports.
Houle said he plans to hire a company from Utah to build the facility, to include 105-foot-long, 14-foot-high concrete block walls covered in steel plates and a ventilation system, and a representative plans to fly out to the area for his upcoming zoning hearing.
“They build ranges all over the world,” Houle said. “This is a certified company.”
A motion for a positive recommendation of the plan was unanimously approved by planners.