published Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Ammo shop still possible near Chickamauga day care

  • photo
    In Chickamauga, parents and workers fear that a proposed gun range will ruin the peace.
    Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Businessman Paul Chapman has given up on opening an outdoor gun range near a Chickamauga, Ga., day care after a roomful of parents expressed opposition Thursday night to the city's planning commission.

But Chapman hasn't ruled out asking the City Council to let him make handgun and rifle ammunition in a metal-sided building at 1568 LaFayette Road, across from the Academy for Little People.

"Right now, it's not completely off the table," he said Friday morning, explaining that his business, North Georgia Firearms & Ammunition, is outgrowing its leased space in Fort Oglethorpe.

"I've got 10 employees there. Those people depend on me for those jobs," Chapman said.

Planning commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to reject separate special-use permits for the shooting range and the ammo business.

But the commission's vote is only advisory. Chapman's rezoning requests will remain on City Council's May 7 agenda unless he sends the city a letter formally withdrawing them, Zoning Administrator Jim Powell said.

Planning commissioners opposed the ammunition business because of concern that a fire in the building, which doesn't have a sprinkler system, could set off a stockpile of bullets.

"That was their [concern], that it could be a possible explosion ... if there was a fire," Powell said.

Chapman says the smokeless powder he uses is flammable but won't explode, unlike black powder used in Civil War-era muskets and cannons.

Day care director Sharon Armour said she's opposed to the manufacture of ammunition near her facility.

"At this point, after everything I've been educated on, yes, I would," Armour said. "I think there's a lot of other places that might be better. There's just a lot of safety concerns."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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