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The first step toward the development of a new 27,000-square-foot indoor public shooting range off Union Road in the Town of West Seneca was taken Monday evening when the Town Board unanimously approved modifying its town code to allow for the operation of such a facility.

Board members voted to amend a law restricting firearms use in town that, until Monday, had remained untouched since 1951. If formally adopted after an upcoming public hearing, it would exempt police officers, any “approved indoor shooting facility” and “any person and/or entity” who has a town-issued permit to discharge such a weapon.

Ransier Development Corp. wants to construct an indoor range on North America Drive for long gun, pistol and archery target practice. But Thursday, the company was temporarily stymied before the Planning Board after Town Attorney Shawn P. Martin advised the body it lacked the jurisdiction to grant permission for the project because of the stipulations in the town’s code.

Monday’s move to update the code will now remedy that.

“This had to be done for the project to move forward,” said Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan.

“Any shooting inside those four walls – or six walls or however many there will be – will be exempt from this law,” Martin said of the Section 74 prohibition in the town code that forbids discharging a firearm in the town.

Town officials have been largely supportive of the new indoor range, which, if developed, would join the Niagara Gun Range in North Tonawanda and the soon-to-open Wolcott Gun in Depew as the only public indoor ranges in Buffalo Niagara.

“This will take care of this community” in terms of filling a need in West Seneca for a public gun range, said Meegan, who called the North America Center “an ideal location” for the project.

Meegan said there will be a public hearing on the proposal April 29. Then, the plans are expected to progress to the town industrial park’s executive review board.

Residents asked whether town funds would be allocated toward construction of the facility.

They also asked if the new range would be conducive for training by the town’s Police Department, which currently practices at the nearby Buffalo Revolver & Rifle Club.

Ransier’s plan is to privately develop the indoor range for public use. West Seneca Police Chief Edward F. Gehen said he’d be open to using the facility for police training, if the facility fits the needs of the department.

“I’d have to see what the facility holds and what it’s like,” said Gehen, “but … it sounds like this might be a more modern facility, so it might be a good option going forth.”

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com