Proposal for indoor shooting range to go before zoners Tuesday

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Update: This hearing has been cancelled and will reportedly be rescheduled.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield Zoning Board of Review will hold a public hearing next week on a proposal that would see a town-based guns and ammo shop expanded to include an indoor shooting range.

If approved, the project would see a 105-foot range built inside MTR Guns and Ammo on Quaker Highway, just by the town line on the Massachusetts border.

Business owner Robert Houle received a unanimous positive recommendation from the Planning Board on the proposal in October, discussing plans to phase out his machine shop business at the same location and shift focus to the range, as well as his existing gun sales business.

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, zoners will take up his request for a special use permit and dimensional variance for the property, located at 221 Quaker Highway. Houle, who owns the property under his business RTM Realty, LLC, hopes to gain approval to put a 840-square-foot addition on the north west end of an existing building on the lot. The 1.16 acre property, purchased for $300,000 in 2015 according to town property records, also houses Atlantic Footcare and Empire Motorsports.

To add the range, Houle will need relief from three zoning restrictions, including permission to establish commercial recreation in an industrial zone, and build in a water supply overlay districts. The project also requires a dimensional variance for design standards due to a shortfall on the the rear set back of the structure.

The gun shop, opened in 2017, will remain in the building according to plans submitted by Marc Nyberg from Insite Engineering Services. In testimony before planners, Houle said he hopes to offer gun safety courses, and to square off the existing roughly 8,000-square-foot building with a 20 X 46 foot addition to hold an 11 or 12 lane range.

A Utah-based company would construct the facility to include 14-foot-high concrete block walls covered in steel plates and a ventilation system, according to the owner. Houle told planners a representative from the range installation business plans to fly out to the area for the zoning hearing.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 14 inside Town Council chambers at Town Hall at 83 Greene St., starting at 7 p.m. The agenda for the meeting has not yet been published with the Rhode Island Secretary of State.

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