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A new state-of-the-art firearms facility could open in Milford by early spring.

After a series of long meetings held during the past several months to hammer out details, the Milford Township Board of Trustees conditionally approved a proposal for a 37,500-square-foot training and educational facility proposed by Huron Valley Guns owner Ed Swadish.

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The $5.4 million facility is slated for an 8-acre acre parcel on Milford Road just north of Pontiac Trail in the township’s south end.

Swadish said the facility will consist of 25 lanes for where private individuals can shoot, as well as six lanes dedicated to local police department training.

The business will also sell firearms and accessories, and include an outdoor archery range.

Details

The property is controlled by a 2008 consent agreement that spells out specifics on how the land can be used.

While a facility such as the one Swadish plans to build was not allowed under the agreement as originally written, the document can be modified with the Milford board’s approval.

Over a the series of recent special meetings and work sessions, board members spelled out a fastidious list of requirement, with which the gun range must comply under the consent judgment.

Those include, for example, hours of operation, sound transmission – board members said it was not acceptable for nearby residents to hear shooting – and careful monitoring of the building’s filtration system, air-quality testing and other environmental concerns.

The board also addressed security measures and reporting procedures, enforcement remedies and safety controls to make sure public is adequately protected, and put in place a complaint procedure.

Further, the adjoining parcel to the north, also governed by the consent judgment, must remain undeveloped.

At the final meeting last month, Swadish’s attorney, Paul Burns, expressed frustration at the board’s strict regulation of the project.

“This is all governed by state and federal law, which is not within your prerogative, quite frankly,” he told the board after learning the township planned to impose noise limits exceeding the township’s noise ordinance. “You’re imposing on this man, who is spending millions of dollars, requirements that far exceed your regulatory power. Just because there’s a consent judgment doesn’t mean you can keep moving the standards.”

But Trustee Bill Mazzara, who, along with Trustee Randy Busick, were the most vocal about the township’s requirements, said he was comfortable imposing the strict guidelines.

“This is a special opportunity,” Mazzara said. “This not an allowed use in this area; this is a transitional zone between commercial and residential.”

Swadish assured the board that, despite the attorney’s objections, he intended to fully comply with the consent judgment as rewritten.

“It’s my call,” Swadish said. “I agreed to all of this, it’s going in the papers and that’s it.”

The project ultimately was approved on condition of compliance with the terms spelled out in the consent judgment.

Resident concerns

During the process, a group of 18 residents, headed by longtime Milford Township homeowners Donna and Dick Pesci, sent a letter to the township expressing concern about the project.

“Most gun owners are responsible but tragically some are not,” said Donna Pesci during a July meeting. “A gun range would have to admit both kinds of people because it’s impossible to tell easily.”

“It just doesn’t go along with the longtime with peaceful community,” she added.

Pesci said the group would prefer if the facility did not get built, but noted township officials had been open and receptive to addressing her concerns about safety, environmental and other issues.

Swadish was set to begin clearing the property and said he hoped construction could be complete by March 1.

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