New shooting range bill introduced

Legislation to waive the city of Marietta’s ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms within the city limits for a planned shooting range in the Harmar district was re-introduced during Thursday’s Marietta City Council meeting.

The waiver was requested last fall by Charles “Chip” Ditchendorf, who wants to expand his West Side Safe and Gun shop at 205 Pearl St. to include an indoor firing range. An ordinance was originally introduced by the previous city council late last year, but the measure was tabled and eventually died because no action was taken prior to Dec. 31.

The proposal has generated some opposition from area residents.

“The current city ordinance is there for one reason-to keep us safe,” Warren Street resident Barbara Brockmeier told council Thursday night.

“There’s a playground and child daycare center near this (proposed firing range), and Harmar Elementary School is not far from that location,” she said. “And many people in the west side neighborhood didn’t know about this. I hope it does not pass.”

Ditchendorf also

addressed council, noting the location of the proposed shooting range is in a C-6 commercial-zoned district.

“This is a heavy-service district,” he said. “But some of my direct neighbors have residential homes there, and I’m trying to be as sensitive as I can to that.”

Ditchendorf said he’s being transparent about his plans because he wants people to know about the range before moving forward with the project that include a flood-proofed underground shooting facility.

“I’m asking council to make a decision based on the current city laws and zoning,” he said. “I welcome neighbors to come in and talk with me about the project. I’m all for dialogue, but I will be constructing a building there.”

Ditchendorf expects to build the facility within the next five years at an estimated cost of $500,000.

The legislation introduced Thursday will go through two more readings before council votes on passage of the measure.

Also on Thursday, Colegate Drive resident Stanley Lang asked to have city council committee meetings held after regular business hours so that the working public could attend.

In addition, Lang said he was not in favor of council’s passage of the 2012 International Property Maintenance Code.

That legislation, which updates the city’s property code to reflect the latest version of the IPMC, was adopted by council last fall. But Lang said it was not too late to repeal the ordinance.

“I have a problem with this,” he said. “It’s ‘international’ and not a policy that’s unique to Marietta. We’re going to become like every other community and will lose our identity. This is funded by our taxpayers, but an outside source dictates how it works.”

In other business Thursday, council voted unanimously to continue splitting the city’s 6 percent hotel and motel tax 50/50 with the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

CVB executive director Jeri Knowlton said the CVB supports the local tourism industry which generates an estimated $191 million worth of economic activity every year and helps provide 1,700 area jobs.

“For every $1 spent (by tourists) the local area receives a return of $39.93 on the city’s investment,” Knowlton said.

According to city auditor Sherri Hess, the tax on hotel and motel room sales garnered a total $895,938 in 2013, which was evenly divided between the city and CVB.