Washington City Council approves controversial gun range

The Washington City Council discusses what to do with Dixie GunWorx's appeal, Washington, Utah, July 23, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON The Washington City Council ruled Friday in favor of Dixie GunWorx’ request to create an indoor shooting range. The ruling overturns an earlier decision by the city planning commission. The commission had denied the range due to its proximity to a home that will be used by the Erin Kimball Foundation as a shelter for women and children who have been victimized by domestic abuse.

View of hitherto unoccupied Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation (left) and Dixie Gun Worx (right), 400 W. Telegraph St., Washington City, Utah, July 17, 2013 | Photo by Kevin Gilbert Mauer, St. George News
View of hitherto unoccupied Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation (left) and Dixie GunWorx (right), 400 W. Telegraph St., Washington City, Utah, July 17, 2013 | Photo by Kevin Gilbert Mauer, St. George News

Dixie GunWorx is located at 400 E. Telegraph St. The home currently being renovated for use by the Erin Kimball Foundation is located next door and up the hill where it overlooks the Dixie GunWorx facility.

The Washington City Planning commission denied Dixie GunWorx’s application because it felt an indoor gun range was not compatible with the permitted uses of the area allowed by city zoning. There was also a concern that the presence of the gun range would be detrimental to residents of the Erin Kimball home due to the sound of gunfire coming from the range and the potential sight of men outside of GunWorx with firearms.

Dixie Gunworx appealed the planning commission’s ruling and was heard by the city council in a special appeal meeting held July 23. The council did not make a ruling at that time, choosing instead to rule within 10 days.

In its ruling Friday, the Washington City Council determined an indoor gun range to be in harmony with permitted uses for the area, and that sound mitigating procedures Dixie GunWorx proposed to put in their facility would take care of the noise concerns. The council also concluded there was no specific evidence indicating the presence of the gun range and accompanying factors would have a negative impact on the mental health of the Erin Kimball residents next door.

While Dixie GunWorx may have won its appeal, it still has a long way to go, Councilman Thad Seegmiller said.

(Dixie GunWorx) will have to meet some pretty strict guidelines,” he said. “This (ruling) doesn’t mean a gun range is going to open next week.”

One of those requirements may be an “annual review condition” mentioned in the ruling which will provide “an additional layer of protection from any potential detrimental impacts or (negative sound impacts) and should be required.”

As for the conflict between the Erin Kimball Foundation and Dixie Gunworx, Councilman Bill Hudson said, “I hope that both groups can find a way to coexist and provide a service to our community.”

Jacob Cooper, president and co-owner of Dixie GunWorx, issued the following statement to St. George News via email concerning the ruling:

We are grateful for the large community support we received through this process. We are also thankful to Mayor Neilson for his encouragement along the way and the city council’s willingness to hear our appeal. DGX will continue to be a respectable neighbor to the Kimball Foundation. Our offer of free use of the range and free attendance at our home defense and rape prevention classes for those they serve still stands despite their opposition.

We’ve made a commitment to the community to create a safe and enjoyable facility for all those who wish to become more proficient with their firearms and enjoy their second amendment rights responsibly.

The Washington City Council’s ruling, which can be read here, did not identify which council members voted in favor of, or in opposition to, Dixie GunWorx’ appeal.

Calls to the Erin Kimball Foundation were not returned by time of publication.

St. George News reported Sarah Isaacson contributed to this article.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

The Washington City Council discusses what to do with Dixie GunWorx's appeal, Washington, Utah, July 23, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
The Washington City Council discusses what to do with Dixie GunWorx’s appeal, Washington, Utah, July 23, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News


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  • My Evil Twin August 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    This is a move that took a lot of thought, and a lot of courage, on the part of the Washington City Council. My respect for them has certainly increased over this situation.
    It is difficult to make the proper decisions when so much hysteria is thrown at you.

  • Hatch August 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I would like to know the councilmen/women that voted in favor of the gun range. They will not receive my vote

    • philiplo August 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

      I tried to look this up on the Washington City web site, but the information there is horribly out of date. The last meeting minutes posted are from June 12, and the “voting record” section of the site has not been updated since April 10. Perhaps you could call city hall (656-6300) for the information.

  • Jen August 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    As I was reading this, I had the same notion as the offer the Dixie GunWorx has already made to the residents of Erin Kimball. Empower these women to take back control of their lives by learning to defend themselves against abusers. Those in opposition to this range can not continue to perpetuate the fear these women have by simply hiding them away. These ladies need to feel strong, independent, and in control of their safety and that of their children. Teaching them to use a firearm and to physically defend themselves if necessary will only help them to combat the helplessness they feel. I was appalled when I read that one of the reasons they didn’t want the range nearby was because of the “potential sight of men outside” — how ludicrous! Not all men are abusers but this statement makes it sound as though the women residing at Erin Kimball are being taught to fear them all. I hope this is not the case!

  • Cheryl Lynn Sim August 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Wow, is all I can say right now. What the council has done is disgusting. I would like an explanation from the Mayor of Washington City as to how this decision is legal. The city that he represents has an ordinance making it ILLEGAL for a firearm to be discharged within Washington City limits UNLESS done so by law enforcement. So, how can this decision be alright? Unbelievable is all I can say. IF they move forward with this, I for one, will constantly be calling 911 for assistance because there will be an illegal business operating within the city limits. I imagine this will actually go to the judicial level though, and some sense will be used when a decision is made, along with a reasonable explanation. Those of you that wish to argue over your 2nd amendment rights, please feel free, because that’s not what I’m even concerned about. As stated previously, Erin Kimball is there to help victims of DV and abuse heal and feel safe. I absolutely agree that Dixie GunworX has the right to operate, but it needs to be in an area that is zoned for such a business. Anyway, lets see what happens in court. I have a feeling Erin Kimball will get the favorable decision in the end.

    • Jason August 5, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Before you waste time and possibly hold up the 911 line for real emergencies, realize that their location is in a zone that allows them to operate their business and a range, and part of the special use permit that they have allows them to discharge firearms in their proposed range.

    • Right on, Babe August 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Go ahead and make those calls. It will just reinforce the obvious fact that you are a “nut case,” and in fact, just might lead to you getting your hostile backside locked up for abusing the 911 system. Just how stupid can you really be?
      Wonder just how else you abuse the 911 system?

  • DoubleTap August 5, 2013 at 8:43 am

    If women would learn to empower themselves and take the necessary steps to learn to defend themselves, there would not be a need for the Erin Kimball Foundation. Why is it that the rest of the community has to give in to the “abused women” sympathy group? The rest of the community did not abuse them. As for the comment “of the women might see men” at Dixie GunWorx, I am offended myself. Not all men are abusers, and I certainly am not. The idea that the mere sighting of me at the gun shop will cause severe trauma to a Foundation resident is insulting to me. It does not matter which council members voted for or against the approval. What matters is that the Council has approved the gun range. That is why residents vote in members of the council. To do the will of the people! The Washington City Council has done the right thing. Maybe the Erin Kimball Foundations should relocate to a more desolate area like, say….Modena or Beryl Junction, where the risk of viewing men is less likely. I stand with the City Council on this matter and I can assure you there are many, many more who feel the same way.

  • Dan Lester August 5, 2013 at 9:24 am

    The idea of trauma from seeing someone with firearms is silly. Well, it isn’t silly that someone might be traumatized, but I’ve in the last couple weeks seen both men AND women carrying openly (holstered, on belt) in the Walmart in Bloomington. One guy was holding the hand of a kid about six and carrying another about 2, with his Glock holstered safely on his belt. Law abiding citizen going shopping with kids.

    Also, any properly constructed gun range will not be sending any significant sound outside its walls.

  • Southern Muscovite August 5, 2013 at 10:56 am

    So let me get this straight, a “non-profit” organization went to Washington City and asked for special favors and accommodations. Next the nonprofit knowingly acquired a property in a commercial zone. The nonprofit has taken years to remodel the property and has yet to occupy it for nonprofit purposes.

    And now the nonprofit thinks they have some special license to bully and badger a business that has carefully engaged the city process to expand its business model?

    Outrageous. The audacity of the Erin Kimball Foundation type of people is dumbfounding.

    Has anyone at Erin Kimball Foundation done analysis of the fallout and impact on donations they are going to incur from taking unpopular positions like they are taking in this community?

    I’ll bet my $100.00 that Erin Kimball does not even occupy the building they are throwing fits over. Based on their craziness on this issue it sounds like they are going to waste money in court instead of finishing the building and actually providing the service they claim to provide.

  • DoubleTap August 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Well now….the other local newspaper has reported that the Erin Kimball Foundations has received a grant totaling $150,000.00 from the Community Development Block Grant (aka: federal funds) for the refurbishment of the property and attempt to bring down another local business. Imagine that…using taxpayer dollars to get a local business closed down. Why is it that the EKF does not use the same source for applying for funding like other businesses do, that being the SBA? I think I get it….lets see; get a loan from the SBA means you have to pay it back. Getting a “grant” from CDBG means you don’t pay it back…it’s a “grant”. I get it. Makes sense to me, from a Foundation Directors perspective. Nice move Mrs. Kimball. So what revenue will the EKF be generating for the City? I know I will be using the new shooting range once it’s complete and operating….along with many others. I will gladly assist DGX in generating tax revenue for the City of Washington.

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