Despite Environmental Concerns, York Planning Commission Backs Indoor Firing Range is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

The York County Planning Commission at its May 13 meeting. (Marie Albiges/WYDaily)
The York County Planning Commission at its May 13 meeting. (Marie Albiges/WYDaily)

Concerns over noise issues related to a proposed Upper York County firing range were quelled Wednesday night, but apprehensions about the air quality caused planning commissioners to hesitate before pushing the application forward with a unanimous “yes” vote.

The proposed indoor firing range, owned by the Digges Company, would be located on Penniman Road near other industrial uses, a nursery, a landscaping business, a single-family home and the future neighborhood of Whittaker’s Mill.

The Digges Company must go through the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for approval before starting work on the site because the zoning ordinance calls for businesses such as a firing range to obtain a special-use permit.

The 18,100-square-foot building would feature 15 rifle-range and 15 pistol-range lanes and state-of-the-art equipment that would regulate environmental hazards, such as lead contamination and smoke.

The building would be regulated by federal and state agencies, but Commissioner Glen Brazelton said he wanted more surety of compliance with the codes.

Interim County Administrator Mark Carter said although York County does not have any standards on air quality, he is confident state and federal agencies such as the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would perform routine inspections and monitor the facility.

“Frankly, their hammer is going to be harder and more strict than the county,” Carter said.

Other concerns from commissioners included noise and the security of firearms and ammunition.

Mark Rinaldi, who represented the Digges Company at the meeting, said the shooting would essentially be soundproof thanks to a specialized ventilation system, sound baffles and other equipment specifically designed to keep noise contained.

“The experts tell us that the ambience noise level right outside the building is louder than the noise you would hear going on inside [from the shooting,]” Rinaldi said.

The range will be built in two phases, with design and cost determining whether the rifle-range or the pistol-range lanes are constructed first.

Rinaldi said the firearms — some of which will be for sale, and some for rented use at the facility — will be locked in safes, the ammunition will be secured and the facility will include controlled access to the equipment.

The projected hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, with extended hours for law enforcement and U.S. Department of Defense personnel wishing to use the facility for training or certification.

Rinaldi said he has spoken with York-Poquoson Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs, who supports the firing range and has expressed interest in having the department use it for training.

Barbara Washington, the owner of the single-family home next to the proposed firing range at 1556 Penniman Road, said she was concerned about the noise and the additional traffic that the range might bring.

Owners from the surrounding business, including Bennett’s Creek nursery, said they supported the application.

It will now be discussed and voted on by the Board of Supervisors at its June 16 meeting.

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Correction 6/17: The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Mark Rinaldi’s last name. A previous version of this article mistakenly spelled it Renaldi.