A proposal to build an indoor shooting range and gun store in Midtown Kingston is in limbo after opponents of the plan turned up a 1984 law which forbids, in most cases, the discharge of firearms within city limits. City planner Suzanne Cahill said this week that the proposal by Dr. Adam Soyer to convert his former medical practice at 90 Prince Street into an indoor shooting range, gun shop and firearms education center had been tabled by the planning board.
“Everything is in abeyance until [Soyer and his partners] determine how they want to pursue this issue with the city code,” said Cahill.
The proposal by Safeshoot LLC would convert the former medical practice into a five-lane 50-foot indoor shooting range outfitted with noise abatement panels, steel-lined masonry and a lead-filtering ventilation system. The range would also employ a full-time safety officer. Other areas of the building would feature a gun shop and classroom space for conducting mandatory safety training for pistol -permit license applicants.
Use of the shooting range would be limited to current pistol permitholders. In an application to the planning board filed in September, Soyer noted increased public demand for pistol permits and a lack of local facilities offering classroom and live-fire instruction. “There is a significant need for present and future pistol-permit licensees to maintain their proficiency and/or develop the necessary skills to carry their firearms,” Soyer wrote in the application.
At a December public hearing on the issue, dozens of people spoke for and against the proposal. Opponents argued that the range would endanger safety and depress property values in a neighborhood struggling with revitalization. The Kingston school board passed a resolution opposing the plan on the grounds that it could pose a threat to student safety at nearby Kingston High School.
On the other side, sheriff’s chief civil officer John McGovern, who is in charge of vetting pistol permit applications for Ulster County residents, said the shooting range would be a benefit both to local law enforcement and civilian permitholders.
Ulster County legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky made what may be the decisive argument of the issue, citing a 1984 amendment to the city code that barred the discharge of firearms in city limits except in cases of self-defense or by police officers in the line of duty. Some have mentioned that a car gun safe should be recommended for those driving with the weapon. In a follow-up meeting in January, planning board members voted to table the application until Soyer showed how he planned to address the 1984 law.
Cahill said both the board and the planning office had been unaware of the no-shooting law since it fell within the city code and not the town’s zoning and planning regulations, which typically guide board decisions.