CEDAR RAPIDS — City Hall is asking the Iowa Legislature to look to change state law so the Cedar Rapids Police Department’s outdoor shooting range can stop worrying about the range’s proximity to homes and businesses.
The move comes after the state Office of Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman told the city of Cedar Rapids in late August that the outdoor shooting range at 2727 Old River Rd. SW violates a state law that prohibits a publicly owned shooting range to be within 200 yards of inhabited structures.
Property owners next to the range, which is a regional center used by several law enforcement agencies and includes evening and weekend shooting, have sought the help of the Ombudsman’s office in recent years to try to limit the racket and to quiet their worries about stray bullets.
“In light of the … applicability of the state’s 200-yard law, and the apparently legitimate concerns about noise and safety from the range’s neighbors, we believe the city must act immediately,” Bert Dalmer, assistant citizens’ aide/ombudsman, told the Police Department and Mayor Ron Corbett in a letter in late August.
Dalmer, who first suggested the violations back in 2009, asked the Police Department to meet with neighbors anew.
At the request of the city of Cedar Rapids, Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has submitted a study bill for consideration by his committee that will look to permit the discharge of firearms at shooting ranges that are near inhabited buildings used by law enforcement officers for training.
Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said Monday that the legislative effort is not designed to do an end run around the state Ombudsman’s Office.
The move is being made in tandem with the city’s hiring of an expert to help the Police Department address issues of noise and safety at the shooting range, he said.
“The goal is to minimize the impact to neighbors, and that is not going to change whether this bill passes or not,” the city manager said.
At the same time, he said the shooting range is a necessary facility for the Police Department and the dozen or so other agencies that depend on it to train their officers.
In September, the three affected property owners within 200 yards of the range said the range continued to cause a lot of noise.
Pat Freilinger, 2949 Old River Rd. SW, said he understood that the Police Department’s officers needed to practice, but he didn’t understand why he had to listen to the noise so officers from agencies outside the city could practice.
“That’s a free-for-all that’s not fair inside the city limits,” Freilinger said.
Don Caraway rents out two houses next to the range and he said one day he had hoped to sell property for more homes. Finding renters for the houses is difficult “with all that banging” let alone selling property for new homes, he said.
Police Capt. Bernie Walther noted Monday that the area to the south of the range is a growing one that can be impacted by the range’s noise.