by: Liz Artz Updated:
ATLANTA - Some people are questioning plans to open a gun range near Atlantic Station.
Currently, there is no indoor gun range within the city limits. Stoddards owner Michael Halbreich said he would restore an old, run-down building that is now covered with weeds and graffiti. His range would employee around 30 people and keep tax dollars in the city limits.
The range would back up to Loring Heights. Halbreich and his business partner said their plan would bring in big bucks, employment opportunities and cater to law enforcement officers.
Halbreich said there would be a huge retail component that would supply police holsters, belts, boots and accessories. He already runs a successful shooting range in Douglasville and wants to bring the same setup to the heart of Atlanta.
It will be for public use, but Halbreich expects a presence from the 2,000 Atlanta officers, the college police force, FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration.
Longtime resident Jeffrey Umberger applauds the gun range that would back up to his neighborhood, but not everyone agrees.
Resident Gary Wallace said he has no problem with it, but read an email from a neighbor who doesn't want it in her back yard. She wrote where there are gun sales, there are drug sales. She was also concerned about its proximity to a liquor store, saying it appears to be a cocktail for crime and a haven for trafficking.
Halbreich is prepared for the controversy and knows recent shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn. could present challenges.
An upcoming community meeting will give residents the opportunity to offer feedback. Halbreich hopes to have the range open by February 2014.