May 15, 2018

Carroll’s City Council has green-lighted an indoor firing range that has some residents “giddy.”

Wendl’s Weapons in Carroll can continue to move forward with its plans to open a firearms retail store, complete with indoor range, in Carroll after the council voted to allow firearms to be discharged at the store, which typically isn’t permitted within city limits.

The plan is to create a 4,000-square-foot retail and classroom facility with an additional 2,600-square-foot, 6-lane, 25-yard indoor shooting range on the east portion of the former Carroll Auto Salvage lot, according to a letter to the city from Mike Wendl, owner of Wendl’s Weapons. The store would combine Wendl’s Weapons in Carroll and Shooter’s Outlet in Arcadia into one entity.

Wendl estimated the facility will be complete in December or January.

The plans line up with Department of Transportation project adding an additional lane to U.S. Highway 30 near Grant Road, and Wendl added that he is working within the relevant guidelines from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The indoor range would be encased in concrete, and Wendl plans to install additional insulation to help deal with sound.

“You don’t have to worry about any bullets going astray, and sound is going to be very minimal,” he said. “At shooting ranges we’ve toured, being right outside, basically, slamming a car door would be louder than what you would hear (from inside the range).”

The current Wendl’s Weapons store draws customers from as far as Des Moines and Omaha, and employees there are asked weekly about offering an indoor range, Wendl said.

“I can’t think of any term other than ‘giddy,’” council member Clay Haley said. “Everyone I talk to who’s interested in this is giddy.”

The council’s permission for the discharge of firearms at the new facility lasts two years and starts when the facility opens. After that period is finished, the council and Carroll Police Chief Brad Burke will revisit the situation and determine whether the permission should be renewed, and for how long.

With the Fourth of July approaching, the council also revisited the city’s policies about the use of fireworks within city limits after a change in state law allows them to be sold in Iowa cities.

Council members supported keeping the same rules as last year, completely prohibiting residents from setting off fireworks in city limits.

Last year, the Carroll Police Department received 102 calls about fireworks being set off within city limits and opted to warn residents rather than charge and fine them, Burke said.

The incidences of illegal-fireworks use likely were higher than reported, as many residents with post-traumatic stress disorder dealing with the effects of hearing fireworks won’t call 911, said council member Mike Kots, who noted that he has received multiple comments from residents with PTSD who were disturbed by the sound of fireworks in the city last year.

This year, Burke said, the police department will be more inclined to fine residents who are caught setting off fireworks.

“We can’t respond to 102 calls for service again,” he said. “We need to take a harder stance this year.”

In other news, the council:

— met Jessi Harmon, the Carroll Recreation Center’s new aquatics and fitness specialist.

— recognized May as Older Americans Month.

— heard an update from the Historical Preservation Commission about the impending opening of a historic building at the Carroll Cemetery and the availability of the commission’s latest calendar.

— approved an agreement with Wellmark for city health insurance for the upcoming fiscal year that carries a deductible of $5,000 for a single person and $10,000 for a family, and an out-of-pocket maximum of $7,150 for a single person and $14,300 for a family.

— held a public hearing and approved a $57,414 plan to upgrade the west entrance of Carroll Recreation Center to line up with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Improvements will include a more-accessible sidewalk and better-functioning doors.

— held a public hearing and approved plans for Phase 9 of the city’s Downtown Streetscape project. This phase will include work on Clark Street between Fourth and Seventh streets; West Street between Fifth Street and U.S. Highway 30; Fourth Street between Adams and Clark streets; Fifth Street between West Street and an east alley; and Fifth Street between Court and Clark streets. The council also approved the single bid received for the project, totaling about $1.7 million, from Badding Construction Co.

— approved an $1,900 agreement with Certified Testing Services from Sioux City to complete geotechnical testing at Northwest Park in preparation for pickleball courts that will be established there.

— approved a $1,700 agreement with Certified Testing Services for geotechnical testing at the Farner Government Building in preparation for the library and City Hall expansion project.

— approved a $5,750 agreement with Semke & Associates for a site survey in preparation for the library and City Hall expansion project.

— approved an agreement with Ahlers & Cooney related to preparing an urban renewal plan for the Rolling Hills South Condominiums.

— hired Neu, Minnich, Comito, Halbur, Neu & Badding to handle a lawsuit filed against the city by Drake Construction related to a water transmission main project, at the cost of $250 an hour in addition to out-of-pocket expenses.

— approved the installation of two lights at East Ninth Street at Griffith Road and East 10th Street for a monthly cost of $23.12 each.

— approved a $4,985 change order to the Third Street HMA resurfacing project to address the removal and reconstruction of an entrance curb. The change will add one construction day and bring the total project cost to $793,856.

— approved a request to waive water service for Paul Fricke at 23103 180th St., with the anticipation that the West Central Iowa Rural Water Association will provide the service.

discussed proposed adjustments to council’s meeting procedures after a work session with Jeff Schott, director of the University of Iowa’s Institute of Public Affairs.