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Vandalia council to discuss ranges amid shooting grounds controversy

The Miami Valley Shooting Grounds owner will need to obtain a new zoning designation from Vandalia before reopening his indoor range, and is prohibited from reopening the outdoor range at all, according to city documents.

On Tuesday, city leaders will discuss the future of all other shooting range applications in Vandalia after implementing a six-month moratorium on new applications.

MORE: Vandalia moratorium won’t stop shooting grounds’ bid for new permit

MVSG, located at 7771 Johnson Station Road, is zoned as agricultural land and was only allowed to use the indoor range in association with the outdoor range. But now that the outdoor range’s permit application is denied, the range inside is no longer legally allowed to be used.

The range’s attorney, Timothy Rudd, said he believes the city is intentionally making the range’s reopening difficult. Rudd maintains his client, range owner Dana Tackett, has made improvements to the range and that an independent evaluation confirmed the outdoor range’s safety.

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“There seems to be a common thread in terms of people wanting to end shooting for one reason or another,” he said.

Vandalia Police Chief Douglas Knight said in a letter to Tackett that “required supervision was lacking” at the outdoor range, and that a “promise and policy regarding enhanced supervision in the future is not persuasive.”

“It is my opinion that the issuance of the requested permit for shooting at MVSG’s outdoor ranges would be detrimental to the health, safety, welfare and morals of the city,” Knight wrote the range’s attorney.

MORE: Shooting range posed threat to public, chief says in letter revoking permit

The chief also said that “since the time of the issuance of the original permit, there have been substantial changes in the surrounding neighborhood, with construction of more residential dwellings.”

Short of seeking an administrative appeal from the courts, the decision on the outdoor range is final and will not be reconsidered, Vandalia law director Gerald McDonald wrote in an email to Rudd.

Following the controversy, Vandalia city council issued a six-month moratorium on issuing permits for shooting ranges, as well as permits to discharge a firearm within city limits.

The moratorium has no affect on the MVSG, city spokesman Rich Hopkins said, but would impact new applications for ranges in the city. But the shooting range is encouraging patrons on its website to attend the meeting to “ask the city council for transparency and honesty about what is truly driving the city’s recent actions.”

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Vandalia Municipal Building.

MORE: Vandalia cop ‘retreated’ as bullets whizzed overhead

In September, the Dayton Daily News and News Center 7 revealed a Vandalia police officer said he “retreated behind” his cruiser when responding to a Sept. 7 call over errant bullets from the shooting grounds.

The officer’s superior said it “was obvious … that the shooters were a threat to public safety and not in compliance with the permit” the police chief issued in 2007, according to the officer’s report.

A neighbor of the range, Jamie Spencer, filed a lawsuit against the range the next day alleging stray bullets from the range flew onto his property. The range denied the claims in the lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial in September.

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