Long before a proposed development that would put an indoor gun club in Mounds View becomes a reality, the City Council is set to take a critical vote Monday on whether people can legally shoot guns in the city.
In what both proponents and opponents call a critical first step for a proposed apartment complex that would include an indoor gun club and range, the five-member council is scheduled to vote on amending the city ordinance that prohibits the discharge of firearms.
Opponents of the proposal say they plan to pack Monday night’s hearing to make their wishes known.
“We are planning on filling the council chambers, and even the entryway of City Hall, with people who are opposed,” said Bill Urbanski, a 49-year resident of Mounds View who said he isn’t anti-gun, just against putting the club and range in a residential area.
“People have a lot of great reasons to come to Mounds View — affordable homes, great parks, good schools, trails. Why do they want to screw it up by bringing in the gun club?”
But Jeff Moritko, owner of the nearby Moe’s American Grill, said he’s not only convinced the gun club would be good and responsible neighbors, but that the development would provide a much-needed injection of tax revenue for a property that has been vacant for years.
“If this was anything other than a gun club, and the fear of that — especially with everything else happening in the world — this wouldn’t be an issue,” he said, pointing out that the developers are asking for no financial help and no tax breaks.
Developer INH Properties and Heartland Gun Club and Range approached city officials last year with a pitch to build a 124-unit, market-rate apartment complex, complete with retail and an indoor gun club, on vacant city-owned land called Crossroad Pointe at Mounds View Boulevard and County Road H2.
Much remains to be negotiated, including a purchase price. But city officials and the developers last month forged a preliminary development agreement that gives developers a year to complete their plans for the site.
Mounds View Mayor Carol Mueller said that she’s excited by the prospect of a $40 million development, but will keep an open mind during the development process.
“I can guarantee all the residents of Mounds View that our number one job is public health and safety,” she said.
Urbanski said that just about everyone in town is on board with the proposal to build apartments and retail. What he and others object to, he said, is putting a gun club close to a residential neighborhood that includes a middle school and senior housing complex. Opponents have collected nearly 200 signatures on a petition to block it.
He added that many are worried that a nearby gun club, even one that’s out of sight and quiet, will have a negative effect on nearby property values. “We want them to survey the neighbors and see what they would like,” he said.
Moritko said that he, too, was initially taken aback by the idea of a gun club across the street. “The first time I talked to the developers, I told them the only thing you could have done worse is say ‘adult bookstore,’ ” he said.
But Moritko started to do some homework, visiting other gun club facilities in Chanhassen and Osseo. What he found, he said, were classy facilities with high-end amenities that blend in with the surrounding community.
“You don’t know if it’s a gun club or a Life Time fitness,” he said.