BZA Frederick Sept. 4, 2012

The Newbury Township Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing was called to order by Mr. Ray Fidel Chairman, at 8:40 p.m. on September 4, 2012 with Board members, Mary Lee Brezina, Bill Skomrock, Sr., Chris Yaecker and alternate Lou Tomsic Jr. present.  Ms. Endres posted the site on screen for board review. All in attendance who wished to speak at this hearing were duly sworn and asked when testifying to state their name and confirm being sworn in. Mr. Fidel read the use variance request:


R. Blake Frederick requests a use variance for an indoor shooting range, gunsmithing, firearm services & sales (non-permitted uses), at 12375 Kinsman Rd.,  #G leased from Newbury Business Park in the M-1 district (vs, Art. IV & XVIII, Sec. 4.01A “any use not specifically listed shall be prohibited” & Sec. 18.00 structure and use must fully comply with NTZR). 


Mr. Markowitz introduced himself as attorney representing Blake Frederick requesting a Use Variance for a shooting range business in Bldg “G” that had previously resulted in a Judgment Entry (JE) to another applicant for this location.  Mr. Frederick has signed a lease for Bldg “G” with Charles White, owner of Newbury Business Park, who is here tonight.


Mr. Fidel asked Mr. Frederick to present his case.  He said he is experienced in the shooting range business as the owner of Sherwin Shooting Sports in Eastlake and wants to expand his shooting range business at Bldg “G” .  He said he grew up in Burton and Claridon, was an ’85 graduate, now lives in Novelty, was a United Way Director, served in the Army National Guard, has lots of military experience, installs manual target systems throughout the country as well as retrofits target systems in older buildings.  For the past 3 years he has explored options to build a shooting range in Newbury: at the Teague Plaza, then Panzica’a new buildings but neither worked out till he heard about the JE and looked at Bldg “G” that is in an Industrial Park, centrally located away from traffic where noise would not be an issue.  The design, length and width of Bldg “G”,  are a positive fit for the shooting range.  His proposal is somewhat different than Ms. Swartwout’s as he would utilize only one building, there would be no firearm resales, but a shooting range with a small target system manufacturing, assembly and storage area.  He is now in a 6700 sq.ft. retail facility for shooting range, gunsmithing and target systems.


Mr. Frederick said that in his business on-line sales dominate, that Great Lakes Outdoor in Middlefield has everything, guns, ammo et al, and he must live with realities.  He would have 12 shooting lanes with 2 additional lanes for use with his target systems, not for 30-06 or larger, with granular bullet traps as part of his target system.  He could have his business open for operation by year end.  In his view, this would be a benefit for the community as well as the county; realistically it is not practical for two shooting ranges in Newbury.  His range is the same as outlined in the approved JE, he has a signed lease for this industrial Bldg “G” away from homes and neighbors, that will provide a needed indoor range for the public and law enforcement officers qualification requirements now done outdoors.  Currently Bainbridge is the only township with its own indoor range.  South Russell expressed an interest in leasing one-day-a-month for their qualification needs.


Mr. Frederick described his proposed straight-thru air handling system as “air in = air out” that makes sense for this area.  In winter the air may not be as warm and in summer not quite as cool.  Recycling systems are “nice but expensive to operate”.  Bldg “G” walls are easy to panelize for sound deadening with acoustic quilts hanging vertically to absorb sound and overhead baffles to deflect shot.


Mr. Fidel asked the board for questions or comments.  Mr. Yaecker asked whether this would utilize the same footprint as the previous JE – same footprint, some ventilation changes, acoustic panels to assure no noise can be heard outside, and the range would comply with all applicable  codes for Wildlife, OSHA & EPA.  Mr. Yaecker questioned were adequate safety measures available in this 1971 building.  Mr. Frederick said he will install roll-down, lockable drapes over the firearm displays so they would be secured in position.  He will sell ammo at a discount but he can’t compete with Walmart.  He also deals in specialty ammo and hard to find parts.


Ms. Swartwout said she was unable to secure financing for a leased facility and now Mr. Frederick wants a shooting range on the same site.  Chuck White says he is in the business of leasing buildings in Newbury Business Park and as long as a tenant pays on time, how the tenant finances his build-out is not his problem.


Mr. Skomrock Sr. asked if Mr. White was the owner – Mr. White and his ex-wife are sole owners of Newbury Business Park.  Mr. White said the closest neighbor to Bldg “G” was The Cleveland Plain Dealer who work at night with no day-time activity.  This is the best store in the block, the building is quite sound-proof now but will be totally sound-proof with the acoustic rebuild.  Mr. Yaecker asked if Mr. White had talked to any Bldg “G” neighbors about this new shooting range.  Mr. White had not specifically talked to neighbors about the new applicant but responded “everyone knows about Ms. Swartwout’s  range and ask when she’s moving in”. 


Mr. Skomrock Sr. asked whether Mr. Frederick would be manufacturing the target systems on site – he said yes and knows he would need to apply for a business permit before opening.  He will be testing customer’s ammo, especially rifle ammo, with 308 cal allowed but not 30-06, with pressures not known.


Mr. Fidel asked the board for any additional comments or questions.  Mr. Tomsic said he had none, Ms. Brezina also had none at this time.


Mr. Fidel opened the discussion for questions from the audience.  Mr. David Williamson said he was impressed with Mr. Frederick’s good business presentation but he and his son own adjoining properties and “don’t want gun-slingers walking around next door”.  In his opinion, a building built specifically for a shooting range is better than a retrofit building.  Mr. Jim Pracker, of 14830 Watt Rd. Novelty, questioned the security at this location and its saferooms.  Mr. Frederick reiterated he will not manufacture ammo in Newbury but may test small specialized ammo.  He told Mr. Pracker that accidents in Eastlake gunstores were “none of his business”.


Mr. Frederick showed his retrofit plans to the BZA board.  Mr. Yaecker said he understands their concerns - that a free-market determines winners and losers in competing businesses but this is not part of the BZA decision making process here tonight.  The BZA can only make their decisions on the basis of the NTZR.


Before calling for a motion, the board decided to consider the Findings of Fact on which they would base their decisions.

a)      Whether there are conditions that are unique to this lot, and not ordinarily found in the same zoning district – NO - however the same use previously resulted in an approved Judgment Entry.

b)      Did the applicant create these conditions – NO.

c)      Whether the variance would adversely affect the rights of adjacent property owners –2 adjacent property owners objected to this new Shooting Range facility.

d)     Whether the variance would adversely affect the public, health, safety or general welfare – no – 2 adjacent owners expressed safety concerns.

e)      Whether the spirit and intent behind the zoning requirement would be observed and substantial justice done by granting the variance – yes - this facility would be useful for the public and for the county as the Sheriff and other law enforcement officials need a central location for certification of officers.

f)       Whether the requested variance is the minimum action which would afford relief to the applicant – yes - seeking a zoning amendment to permit these uses is possible but more time consuming and possibly not approved.

g)      What other economically viable use of the lot could be made within this zoning district – all other approved uses in the B-1 and M-1 districts.


There being no more questions, Mr. Fidel called for a motion stating that a yes vote would grant the use variance as requested.


Chris Yaecker moved to approve the Use Variance as presented, Mary Lee Brezina seconded the motion with the following role call vote:


            Chris Yaecker                                                 no

Bill Skomrock, Sr.                                           yes

Lou Tomsic, Jr.                                               yes

Mary Lee Brezina                                           no

Ray Fidel                                                        no

The motion was denied.


Mr. Fidel read to the Appellant and audience, “Within 30 days after service of the minutes denying your request, if someone wishes to challenge this decision through the court, he or she may. The challenge could reverse or negate our decision. Mr. Fidel informed the Appellant and the audience that the 30-day period commences with the Appellants’ signing receipt of the signed minutes.  They will be mailed registered return receipt to the Appellant.  All persons receiving notice of the hearing will receive copies of the minutes.  At the time you receive your permit you must also comply with all other requirements of Newbury Township zoning”.


Mr. Fidel adjourned the BZA hearing at 9:30 p.m.  As the applicant left, Board members wished him good luck. 


Mr. Fidel adjourned the meeting at 9:40.


Marge Hrabak Secretary                    


Signatures of the Newbury Board of Zoning Appeals:



_________________________                                              ____________________________

Mary Lee Brezina, V. Chairman                                             Bill Skomrock, Sr.


_________________________                                              _________________________

Chris Yaecker                                                                         Lou Tomsic, Jr. Alt.


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Ray Fidel, Chairman                                                               Marge Hrabak, Sec’y  BZA