Gun Range

A possible new gun range is in early development outside Courtland in Nicollet County. The developers had to get an after-the-fact conditional use permit, approved at the commissioners meeting Tuesday, after beginning earth work in the summer of 2019. (Image courtesy of Nicollet County)

The project is still in the early stages with no guarantees of what’s to come, but developers of a possible new gun range business near Courtland can move forward after resolving a hitch in the process with Nicollet County.

According to documents submitted to the Nicollet County Planning and Zoning Board, Michaletz Properties, LLC, purchased a 45-acre property in May 2019 and a 115-acre property in November 2019 for the potential purpose of establishing a private shooting range and associated business. There was an apparent miscommunication, and the developers moved ahead in the summer with earthwork on a portion of the property, mostly flattening the grade. The work also included site preparation and the construction of building pads for the storage building and covered shooting area.

The developers needed a conditional use permit to perform the land alteration, though, which was brought to their attention after the fact. They were able to apply for an after-the-fact CUP, which was recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Board and approved Monday by the Nicollet County Board of Commissioners.

The Zoning Board did add some conditions to the permit, though. The developers are expected to continue with the project according to the plans it submitted to the county in its application; the permit will be periodically reviewed for compliance by the county; any projects changes will require permit changes; appropriate sediment and erosion control measure must be installed and a healthy vegetative cover must be maintained; and the bluff and bluff setback areas impacted by the project have to be restored to their pre-development condition.

According to the application for the permit, the total amount of material moved as part of the project was 19,241 cubic yards. The range floor measures 80’ wide by 3,000’ long. It runs roughly southeast to northwest, from the 16’ x 44’ covered shooting area on the southern property, to a backstop located in the northern property.

The backstop consists of a berm measuring approximately 100’ wide by 30’ tall. The creation of the backstop utilized an existing stockpile of old mining tailings. The tailings were left over from past operations at the gravel pits located north/northwest of the properties. A small grove of trees in front of the backstop was removed as part of developing the range floor.

The northern property came with a 26- by 70-foot steel utility building already on it. And two buildings — one 50- by 60-foot storage building with a 16- by 60-foot lean to and one 16- by 44-foot mono-roof shed for the covered shooting area — are in construction. The new structures were permitted for private use.

The surrounding land use is a mix of natural environment, agricultural, and industrial. There are two gravel pits and a demolition landfill located directly northwest of the properties, and one gravel pit to the north/northeast.

Directly north and east of the properties is mostly agricultural land. The Minnesota River is located south of the properties and its floodplain extends northward into the southwest corner of the southern property. There are two unnamed streams traversing the eastern portion of the southern property, flowing south towards the river. The city of Courtland is located approximately half a mile east of the properties.

The developers have not indicated any kind of timeline for the project.

Reach Editor Philip Weyhe at 507-931-8567 or follow him on Twitter @EditorPhilipWeyhe. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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