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March 11, 2021 - 11:18am

Developer: Outdoor shooting range, drive-in theater will offer 'healthy, family activity'

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The owner of The Firing Pin indoor shooting range and gun shop in Bergen says he is prepared to help society “return to normalcy” through the development of an outdoor recreational facility that includes a drive-in movie theater on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Road in the Town of Batavia.

Brandon Lewis, an East Bethany native and Alexander Central School graduate, provided details this morning of his plan, which is on the agenda of tonight’s Genesee County Planning Board meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

According to documents submitted to planners, Lewis, who recently moved to Brockport, is requesting a special use permit and review of the site plan to construct and operate the business for firearms training, general recreation, fitness training and a drive-in theater.

The location, in an Agricultural-Residential district, previously was used for snow tubing.

“We’re hoping to have shooting by July and have some fun events – maybe a haunted hayride this fall … just some affordable family entertainment and family fun on top of the shooting range,” he said. “I think we can mesh those two things, and I think it’s good for a return to normalcy. Firearms are a completely normal, healthy American family activity that can mesh with other forms of family entertainment.”

Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin since 2014, said he approached the Batavia Town Planning Board more than a year ago before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, just to introduce planners to his idea. He said the board was enthusiastic in its response.

“I asked if this was feasible or (would it be) an uphill fight the whole way, and they said it sounds great and your property is perfect for it,” recalled Lewis, who purchased the former Polar Wave property a year earlier and “just fell in love with it.”

“The potential that it offers to the people of the region, really, and, talking with my family, we just thought (we could provide) something that hadn’t been done before around here,” he added.

He said the land is naturally suited to be a shooting range, which will be the primary focus.

“It will be more of a gun club, still open to the public, but more of a club-type of atmosphere where we can offer so many different kinds of training that you can’t do at an indoor range,” he said. “Being able to do that and opening it up to law enforcement, that’s going to a huge potential source of customers for us. There’s a lot that we can offer as far as demos, training and things that don’t exist anywhere around here.”

Lewis said numerous police officers from the county and surrounding area use The Firing Pin and he believes they will be attracted to an outdoor range where they can further their training.

“We have great relationships with all the local law enforcement agencies, and I’m sure we’ll see many of those guys out there privately as well. Most of the officers are very dedicated to training even on their personal time,” he said.

As far as the drive-in theater is concerned, Lewis said he will start by putting up a small projector screen to show classic movies and favorites. The hope is to expand and show new releases with room for up to 130 cars – along the lines of the Silver Lake Drive-In in Perry.

Lewis also said the area will be available for music concerts – “somewhere (in size) between Jackson Square in Batavia versus Darien Lake,” he said – and for car shows, craft shows and other events.

“I think there’s a sweet spot in there that we’re missing out on,” he said.

He said immediate plans are to fix the on-site bathrooms and a long-term goal is to build a clubhouse.

Other referrals of note are as follows:

  • A site plan review for Mutka 3450 Properties of British Columbia, Canada, to construct a 1,500-square-foot office addition to an existing warehouse facility in a Manufacture-Industrial district at 3450 Railroad Ave. in the Village of Alexander;
  • A site plan review for BALD Development LLC of Alden to construct an 11,250-square-foot (225 by 50) pole-barn-type commercial office/storage building in a Commercial district at 234 Genesee St. (Route 33) in the Town of Darien.
  • A special use permit for ForeFront Power of San Francisco to place a 45-acre, 5 megawatt ground-mounted solar system in an Agricultural-Residential district at 6982 Norton Road in the Town of Elba. The company is looking to install the solar array with associated electrical equipment, access road, fencing and landscaping on an existing farm field owned by Daniel and Penny Mudrzynski.
  • Zoning text amendments related to solar energy submitted by the Darien, Elba and Le Roy town boards.

Rendering at top showing: a 200-yard shooting range at top; trap shooting range (triangle); drive-in theater at left; handgun range between the 200-yard range and theater; RV park next to the drive-in; and training course at right. Courtesy of Genesee County Planning Department.

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