EFFINGHAM — The Effingham Plan Commission voted down two requests which would have brought an indoor gun range into downtown Effingham.
The requests, petitioned by Christopher R. Shimboff Jr. and his wife, Cindy K. Shimboff, were to rezone Effingham Guns and Ammo, on North Fourth Street from a B-2 General Commercial District to a B-5 Highway Commercial district, which would have allowed for a special-use permit for an indoor shooting range.
“It seems to be something that Effingham proper is ready to receive,” Shimboff said during his testimony.
City Building Official Bruce Devall said a highway commercial designation for a business located downtown is highly unusual. He noted the nearest businesses designated as highway commercial are on North Third Street that leads to U.S. 45. However, he added Gabby Goat American Pub & Grill on Fayette Avenue was specified as highway commercial under the assumption that it would serve bus travelers.
Devall said he had doubts about placing a shooting range downtown, particularly within the geographical limitations of the highway commercial designation.
“I think it’s too far from the interchange of the interstate, personally,” he said of Effingham Guns and Ammo. “I’ve been to gun ranges throughout the United States, and they’re generally on the outskirts of town.”
Roy Upchurch, pastor at Effingham United Pentecostal Church located next to Guns and Ammo, said at the hearing the close proximity between where guns would be firing and where people would be worshipping was troublesome to him, as the church and the range are separated by only 13 feet.
“It just seems like it’s very close quarters,” he said. “I’m not against guns or against people having a firing range, but it’s very cramped.”
Shimboff responded that regulations would require steel be placed in the walls of the gun range, which would make the building safe and would lower the amount of noise that would be noticeable from other businesses or from the street.