The first reading of an amendment to an existing ordinance concerning the city’s firing range for police training was heard at the Collegedale Commission meeting Monday night. The current ordinance has been in effect since 1997, according to Joe Manuel, attorney representing Howard and Nancy Reykdal in their lawsuit against the city.
The Reykdal property is adjacent to a Collegedale police department firing range that was built in 2010. The firing range is 300 feet from the property line, and 719 feet from the house the couple has lived in for 24 years.
The current ordinance prohibits shooting within 600 feet of a property line, causing the city to be in violation of its own law, said attorney Manuel.
City Attorney Sam Elliott has recommended that commissioners add a clause to the Municipal Code which would exempt police from the distance specifications. That section of the code was never meant to apply to the police department, said attorney Elliott. He told the commissioners it would be best to clean up the ordinance with the addition of the proposed amendment.
In the lawsuit, Circuit Court Judge Marie Williams has issued a temporary injunction to reduce noise which puts limits on the times of use and specifies the Reykdals be given notice when the range will be in operation. Although the plaintiffs attended the commission meeting with their attorney Monday night, they will only be allowed to speak during the public hearing on the matter which will be held before the second reading and vote at the May 6 commission meeting.
Commissioner Larry Hanson raised the question of why public hearings where citizens are allowed to comment are held just before the second reading. He said the commission then must make decisions in very little time and that he is uncomfortable in doing that. Christy Pratt, city recorder answered that she had been told this was done because the city is required to advertise a public hearing. There is always a possibility that commissioners will vote down an issue on the first reading and, if that happens, the city has wasted money on the advertisement, she said.
Vice Mayor Tim Johnson commented that he, too, would like to have the public hearings at the first readings, but added that he did understand the cost issues. Mayor John Turner suggested that a discussion about this should be held in a workshop session.
City Manager Ted Rogers reported that revenue for the city looks good. Now being 75 percent through the fiscal year, 99 percent of the property taxes and 99 percent of all expected revenues have been received. During the same time, 73 percent of expenditures have been made. Income for the month of March was $2,080,000, which includes both sales and property taxes.
The next meeting of the Collegedale Board of Commissioners will be Monday, May 6, at 6 p.m.