- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Noise concerns may lead Fairbanks to set rules for future gun ranges near neighborhoods in the city’s general use and industrial zones.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly may require a public hearing and conditional use permit for prospective operators, similar to rules for gun ranges in commercial zones, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/1PLuhJH).

Residents complained about safety and noise last summer when a firearms training school opened in their neighborhood.

Gun ranges are prohibited in residential zones. Gun ranges that have been allowed to open in general use and industrial zones would have grandfather rights.

Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison is the measure’s primary sponsor.

“It really is a noise issue,” she said.

The measure includes National Rifle Association safety standards. Gun ranges would need a 15-foot backstop, shooting lanes at least a half-mile from neighboring dwellings, and 8-foot side berms.

Shotgun-only shooting ranges would not be required to have berms or backstop.

The planning commission held a public hearing on the measure in December.

“By restrictive zoning, thus making it more difficult to provide range facilities, the community at large will become less safe,” said Laura Berkowitz.

Residents who had opposed the firearms training school said the measure was a positive change.

“This ordinance will allow for nearby residents to be notified and have their concerns heard before any new ranges are built,” Lisa Vaughn said.

A vote is set for Thursday.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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