Mount Pleasant residents jam effort to bring indoor shooting range to shopping center

- Residents opposed to an indoor shooting range near their Charleston National homes and family-friendly businesses won a victory Wednesday when the town's Planning Commission unanimously denied a zoning request.

Palmetto State Armory wants to open a retail store selling hunting and fishing gear, along with an indoor shooting range, in the vacant former Food Lion anchor at National Crossing Shopping Center.

"Safety is always our chief concern, and this is primarily a retail operation," said Eric Johnston, the company's chief retail officer. "If we're not safe, we won't be in business."

However, the shooting range requires special permission, which commissioners recommended denying after a dozen residents voiced concerns about safety, traffic and noise.

The shopping center, at the entrance to Charleston National, is home to a dance studio, karate school, Subway and other businesses and is adjacent to the neighborhood's pool. Two magnet school buses drop off students in the parking lot.

Angie Baker, who owns Dance Carolina in the shopping center, said she owns a registered firearm but wouldn't bring it to her studio full of children.

"I would love a gun range, but I don't want it in my front yard or sharing a parking lot," Baker said.

Several residents agreed, including Jennie Scudder-Levin whose teenage daughter attends the dance studio.

"I cannot have my family going through a parking lot where there are guns," Scudder-Levin said. "This shopping center is contiguous to a neighborhood with businesses catering to children and it isn't appropriate."

Several who opposed the location agreed a shooting range with a store selling outdoor supplies would be a welcome addition to East Cooper - but in a freestanding or light industrial setting.

The recommendation will go to Town Council's Planning Committee.

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