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County mum on Woodfin gun range


After repeated attempts by the Tribune to get in touch with the Assistant County Manager for Development, Jon Creighton, and even an attempt to get in touch with Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene, about the ongoing development of the new county law enforcement gun range, no calls were returned.

In June of 2013, Creighton presented the plans for a proposed $10 million project to the Woodfin Planning and Zoning Board. That proposal and presentation showed plans for 100-meter and 25-meter ranges, a 40-person classroom and a 100-vehicle parking lot. The plan, as presented, was passed by the P and Z board, 6-1.

However in January, the Tribune reported that the plans for the range had changed. According to Creighton, “It was $10 million and now it’s $2 million.” At the time he said, “We are going with a 50-meter indoor range […] No offices, no 100-meter range. It will be a dramatically smaller building.” He cited cost as being the sole reason for the reduction of the project.

Creighton said in January that no plans are available because, “We are in the midst of doing a redesign of it,” Creighton said.

Currently, grading and infrastructure work has begun on the location of the proposed range.

Creighton expects for the building to become operational “at this point, probably close to end of [2015]. We’ve got to design it and build it; so to be safe, it’ll be in the fourth quarter of [2015].”

However in the five months since then, no further information has been received by the Tribune or the Town of Woodfin.

As of May 5, Woodfin Town Administrator Jason Young had not received any official correspondence from the county, despite county officials speaking publicly about the project to other news outlets.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported in February that “News of the newly proposed $6 million range came in a much quieter fashion than years past, when public concerns over safety, noise and cost scuttled plans for outdoor ranges and the larger indoor facility.”

In the story by ACT Joel Burgess, “Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton confirmed…that the county was preparing to finance a shooting range. No cost was given in the legal notice, but Creighton said it would be $6 million…County officials hoped to build a relatively inexpensive outdoor range for about $2 million. But proximity of homes, resident concerns and the presence of trout streams on one piece of property stifled the effort.”

In April, a $6.8 million land deal was agreed on between Buncombe and Henderson County and was reported by the Citizen-Times. Interestingly “Asheville in turn agreed that the money would go toward public safety. The city will take its proceeds, $3.4 million, and give it to Buncombe County to help build a shooting range that could be used by sheriff’s deputies and city police, Mayor Esther Manheimer said,” the article stated.

To date, Buncombe County has not provided the Town of Woodfin with an updated site plan to reflect the $6 million project, according to Young. Unofficially, they provided Woodfin Mayor and County Emergency Services Director Jerry VeHaun with elevations of the proposed structure (See picture on the front page).

Young indicated that to his knowledge, grading work is currently being conducted at the site of the range.

As of press time, no communication as been received by either Greene or Creighton despite numerous attempts for comment.

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