Spokane Journal of Business

Whatever Happened To: Spokane Gun Club’s range relocation plans

Organization appeal deadline nears after land-use permit overruled a second time

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The Spokane Gun Club’s plans for a new trap-and-skeet range on the West Plains have ricocheted between superior courts and now could be headed to state appeals court, with a filing deadline looming.

When the Journal last reported the status of the $4 million-plus gun club plans just over a year ago, a conditional-use permit originally approved by the Spokane County Hearing Examiner’s Office had been remanded by Lincoln County Superior Court back to the hearing examiner for further consideration.

Since then, the hearing examiner reapproved the gun club’s requested land use, and the Medical Lake Cemetery Association, which opposes the gun range at the planned location, appealed that decision to Pend Oreille County Superior Court. That court overturned the hearing examiner, leaving the next move up to the gun club, says Louis Huang, the gun club secretary.

“We’ll be appealing that decision,” Huang says of the Pend Oreille County court decision when contacted by the Journal on April 11. “We respect the judge’s right to make a decision. We don’t feel it was a correct result.”

Some land-use decisions can be appealed in courts in neighboring counties to avoid potential conflicts of interest with proceeding in the home county.

The proposed gun range site is near the northwest corner of Brooks and Thorpe roads, directly across Thorpe from the Medical Lake Cemetery.

A representative of the Medical Lake Cemetery Association couldn’t be reached for comment.

In earlier court filings, the cemetery association contends a gun range at the proposed site would be disruptive to visitors and activities at the cemetery. The association also had alleged earlier that the Spokane County Commission had been quick to remove a no-shooting designation at the 450-acre site in August 2019, showing favoritism toward the gun club even before the club sought a conditional-use permit for the range.

The gun club’s purchase of the site for $920,000 from Western Pacific Timber LLC, was contingent upon the removal of the no-shooting designation.

Huang says club officials had planned to meet shortly with attorneys, and the deadline for the club to file its own appeal with the Washington Court of Appeals, which is the intermediate court for the state, is April 25.

He says he’s heard that if the appeal is filed, it could take a year for the case to be heard.

At the same time, the club may investigate whether other options are available to purchase land on which the club might be able to develop a range more quickly, he says.

In a follow-up contact, Huang says he declines to comment further on legal options pending a full membership meeting, which was scheduled after the Journal’s press time.

Spokane County planning records currently show three building permit applications that were filed on Oct. 20, 2020, remain on hold in the “initial review” phase.

Building permit application information shows the shotgun shooting sports facility would include a 4,600-square-foot clubhouse, a 2,300 square-foot maintenance and storage facility with restrooms, and trap and skeet structures totaling 2,600 square feet.

Wolfe Architectural Group PS, of Spokane, designed the project.

The club also had been considering constructing a pistol range that would be baffled to prevent rounds from escaping the facility.

The club had operated a range at 19615 E. Sprague but sold that 99-acre site to the Central Valley School District for nearly $8 million in 2018. The new Ridgeline High School now occupies the former Spokane Gun Club site.

The club’s West Plains property is less than a mile northwest of the Fairchild Air Force Base main runway, and about four miles northwest of the Spokane County Regional Indoor Small Arms Range and Training Center, which is being built for Air Force and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office instructors to train airmen and deputies.

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Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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