YAKIMA, Wash. -- A public comment period closes today on a proposal by the Yakima County Sheriff's Office to locate an outdoor shooting range on Roza Hill Drive, east of the Terrace Heights Landfill.
Neighbors, however, are raising concern about the department's application, arguing it lacks sufficient detail on potential impacts of noise and lighting. They also worry about the effect on future housing development, according to comments filed with the county.
They would like the proposal in its current form withdrawn or the comment period extended.
Sheriff Ken Irwin said he will stage a community meeting to explain the proposal and answer questions. "We are not trying to jam this down anyone's throat. We want to go through the legal process," he said.
A county planning department decision on the application is expected within two weeks.
The project requires a conditional use permit and an environmental review. County planners have indicated they will issue a determination that the project will not have adverse environmental impacts.
The proposal includes two firing areas surrounded by 20-foot- tall berms. The 17-acre parcel, at the corner of Roza Hill Drive and Solar Lane, is county-owned.
If approved and developed, shooting by sheriff's deputies and county Department of Corrections officials would be scheduled during the day and at night, until 11 p.m. on occasion.
Irwin said the Sheriff's Department lacks a permanent shooting range. Deputies currently use the range on the Yakima Training Center, but its availability is often limited.
Securing practice times at another range in East Valley is too expensive, he said.
Irwin said deputies and corrections officers are required to qualify with weapons twice each year, once during the day and once in a nighttime setting.
Irwin said the department has $13,000 available to cover the cost of developing the range. The money has been collected over a number of years from selling spent shell casings for recycling.
County Public Services equipment would be used to create the 20- foot berms.
In addition to the berms and shooting areas, the proposal includes a gravel parking lot and a small storage building for targets and other equipment. Irwin said he hopes to obtain at some future date a modular building for classes.
Electricity and water are available on the site. The property would be fenced.
Written comments on the proposal can be submitted to the Yakima County Planning Division, 128 N. Second St.