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Local News

New Lenox adopts zoning ordinance for gun shops and ranges

NEW LENOX – New Lenox village trustees Monday night adopted an amended ordinance that allows gun shops and indoor gun ranges to be built in some commercially and industrially zoned portions of town, but with some restrictions.

The ordinance was tabled last month after residents complained to the village board about the removal of a separation provision.

The ordinance has been amended with the inclusion of the provision requiring that prospective gun shops and ranges be 500 feet away from residential areas, schools, day care facilities, churches and parks.

The board brought the ordinance back for discussion at its April 10 meeting, at which time no residents made any public statements.

It was unanimously approved with no further discussion Monday night as part of the board meeting's consent agenda.

According to the ordinance, allowing guns shops in C-3 (general business), C-7 (regional shopping) and I-1 (limited industrial) districts and gun ranges only in I-1 districts "would not negatively impact the public health, safety and general welfare."

On the advice of village counsel, village staff had cited a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals case that ruled against a similar provision that Chicago had required in its own zoning ordinance as the reason that the language was originally removed from the New Lenox ordinance.

The new ordinance specifically references that case — Ezell v. City of Chicago — noting that the ruling stated that Chicago "'severely restricted' the ability to site a shooting range in the city limits."

The New Lenox ordinance notes that of the 1,460 acres of C-3, C-7 and I-1 parcels existing in the village, 59 percent would still be available for prospective gun shops, despite the separation provision. For prospective gun ranges, of the 635 acres of I-1 parcels in the village, 33 percent would still be available.

Last month, Mayor Tim Baldermann said that a party interested in building a gun range in the village had prompted the village to move to amend its zoning ordinances to include these businesses.

At the April 10 meeting, Assistant Village Administrator Robin Ellis informed the board that the interested party would not be affected by the limitations of the provision.

Ellis said Monday after the meeting that with zoning in place that party will now need to move forward by first filing for a special use request for the proposed gun range. This will require a public hearing once the request is filed.

The village code was amended in 2012 requiring masonry for exterior walls of shops primarily selling guns, as well as silent alarms, surveillance cameras, and gates and bars on doors and windows. This was a result of a break-in at a now defunct gun shop on Route 30.

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