MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — People in Mitchell today are still talking about the debate over a proposed gun range at last night’s Davison County Commission Meeting.

As KELOLAND News has reported, the city of Mitchell bought a parcel of land in 2019 with plans to use part of it as a Lake Mitchell wetland conservation area.

But newly announced plans to use the rest of the land for a shooting range has a lot of people upset.

The Davison County Commission’s chamber might seem a little empty today. But last night it was packed full of Mitchell residents voicing their concerns for and against the gun range,”

More than 100 people from Mitchell spilled out of the chamber and into the hallway to hear the City’s proposal and to discuss the gun range.

“The turnout was fantastic. The room was standing room room only we had people leaving sitting on the floors to accommodate everyone that turned out,” said Pam Kiner, resident and landowner.

More than 70 people testified against the range, while 16 residents expressed support. Some of the biggest concerns included safety, noise control, wildlife and agricultural impacts and affect on property value.

“They’re not against guns. They’re not against shooting. ‘They’re not against teaching youth how to how to handle a weapon’. They’re against the location,” said Jeff Bathke, Planning and Zoning director.
After hearing arguments for and against the proposed gun range, the board unanimously voted “no” on the conditional use permit, necessary to build the shooting range.

“I have to remain neutral. I do live near the project. I did see it coming, that there was going to be a large resistance against the project just because several people had called our office beforehand. I wasn’t surprised by the outcome,” Bathke said.

Resident Loren Vanovershelde lives close to the proposed range. He and others were pleased with the vote.

“We’re not fighting for ourselves, we’re fighting for the next generation, our children, our grandchildren. And we’ve got to get this right for them, because they’re the ones that’s going to live with the decisions that are made today,” said Loren Vanovershelde.

The City and residents plan to present their points at the next meeting.

The next step of this process is presenting to the Board of Adjustment. That meeting will take place on September 19th at 9:15 in the morning.

We did ask for people to speak in favor of the gun range to do an interview, but none were willing to go on camera.