Local Matters

Community Sponsors

The Firing Pin

June 29, 2021 - 4:48pm

While not giving up on the Town of Batavia location completely, Brandon Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, figures he’s fighting a losing battle as far as developing an outdoor shooting range at the 22-acre parcel he owns at 3269 Harloff Road.

Acknowledging restrictions that come with the necessary special use permit from the Town of Batavia Planning Board and solid opposition from homeowners in that area, Lewis said he is changing up his game plan for the property.

“We’re going to move forward with some of our other business ventures as it does look less and less likely every day (that a shooting range will become a reality there) just because of the requirements set forth by the town,” Lewis said on Monday afternoon.

“(The revised plan) would include some of the other ideas I had, maybe not as full bore as I wanted to. I do like the property and I would like to keep it.”

Lewis, a Brockport resident who grew up in Genesee County, introduced his idea to place a shooting range/training facility, modest drive-in movie theater and small campground in March to the Genesee County Planning Board.

Since then, he has appeared before the town planning board on a few occasions but the proposal has been stuck in the mud for several reasons: planners’ justifiable request for specific details of Lewis’ plan; Lewis’ questioning of the constraints of the special use permit and; most notably, Harloff Road area residents’ objections to the shooting range over, primarily, noise and safety concerns.

“It’s not so much the town, but I don’t want to run a business where every neighbor is pitting against me,” Lewis said. “That’s certainly not how my shop in Bergen is. I think the community quite likes us out there.”

He said he understands the planning board is “just trying to do their duty” but isn’t ready to invest several hundred thousand dollars in an unreceptive environment.

“I just think no matter what I do, the residents – the locals – are just going to be against it. My neighbor here, Chris (Mosier) at Area 51. He’s been there how many years? And they’re giving him trouble, too,” he said.

Lewis said he continues to look into how he can proceed with the campground and drive-in ventures.

“The camping was never intended to be a 200 or 300 spot campsite. It will be like 20 spots at the most, and will be like dry camping or boondocking, basically,” he said. “It’s just a spot to do it inexpensively. There won’t be sewer. A lot of people questioned that project, too. Once we unveil the full project of it, they’ll see that there’s nothing to be worried about.”

On the drive-in, he said it could become a major undertaking.

“If you want to show current release movies, just the projection equipment alone is like $200,000 or $300,000, if not more,” he said. “Again, I’m not going to spend a half a million dollars needed to do everything to put in a drive-in, and then in a few years the neighbors say, ‘No, we don’t want it anymore,’ and they pull the special use permit.”

Lewis said he hasn’t contacted the planning board to have his referral placed on an agenda yet.

“I’m just regrouping – working with some of my other friends who are small business owners and seeing what kind of collaborations we can do together. I’m just trying to get something going out here so we can use the property and keep improving it,” he said.

As far as the outdoor shooting range is concerned, Lewis said he believes there is “a definite need” and he’s exploring other locations.

“We showed that there was a need for an indoor range like we offer (in Bergen) and I think the same thing – what we could do with an outdoor range, we still want to do,” he said. “We’re looking at properties that are more suited or better for us. If we can find a spot that’s great, we’re going to move forward with it. If anyone has land that could hold a 1,000-yard range, have them call me at (585) 494-0333.”

Previously: All jammed up. Shooting range proposal's lack of progress, commentary irritate Town of Batavia planners

May 5, 2021 - 12:23pm

Frustration and what seems to be a growing level of mistrust on all fronts have bubbled to the surface over a Brockport businessman’s proposal to develop an outdoor shooting range and entertainment venue on Harloff Road in the Town of Batavia.

Tuesday night’s Batavia Town Planning Board meeting revealed a standstill of Brandon Lewis’ bid to secure a special use permit to own and operate a shooting range for firearms’ training and competition, drive-in theater and small RV park on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Road.

According to Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski, Lewis has yet to comply to a letter sent to him by the town engineer seeking information necessary for planners to make an informed decision.

“The letter outlined everything he needs to do,” Jasinski said, on the Zoom videoconference session. “He has a lot of reports to prove the safety and all of our questions, he has to answer them. And he has not made any effort yet, so we’ll have to wait until he starts producing the material we need.”

Although the proposal to place a shooting range in the vicinity of Area 51 Motocross was not on the evening’s agenda, it came up right away during the “public comments” portion of the meeting.

Lewis, a Genesee County native and owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, has been attempting to get town approval for the project since early March, when he gave an overview to the Genesee County Planning Board. Since then, residents living in the area have voiced their opposition while others -- both in and outside of the Town of Batavia -- have reached out to the planning board in support of the project.

Lewis: 'It's a Perfect Location'

Last night, Lewis attempted to address the concerns, primarily safety and noise, of those who live near the Harloff Road site.

He said the RV park will be small, not 130 campers as some people have said, and there will be no hook-ups, sewer or water. He also said hours of operation are negotiable and that all members of the shooting club would be certified range safety officers.

As far as shooting toward the Thruway, he pointed out that Four Points in Spencerport (actually Four Point Rod & Gun Club in Scottsville) customers “shoot directly toward the Thruway as well,” at the same distance, about 1,000 feet.

Lewis then said he believes the topography of the area, which is zoned for outdoor recreation use, is “a perfect location for a shooting range in the town” and meshes with the municipality’s comprehensive plan.

He then questioned the restraints of the special use permit.

“It is very difficult and will continue to be very difficult to get people to invest in businesses in that spot … very, very difficult to have any kind of investment in that area with that type of burden placed, where every year …” he said, before mentioning Area 51 owner Chris Mosier and the need for an annual review of the special use permit.

“He’s put $100,000 in labor alone in that facility. I intend to do the same and it’s going to be very difficult for me to justify that if I’m allowed to do something and then every year I have to fight to allow it to stay open.”

Taking Steps to Reduce the Noise

Lewis acknowledged that noise is a “primary concern,” but said he has several solutions, including planting trees around the perimeter of the property, placing berms in the direction of fire, angling the noise away from homes and putting a rifle’s muzzle into a culvert-type pipe to reduce the noise.

“And we have the safety issue covered (with) protocols and training standards in place, I think that people will see that safety is something that we have covered easily,” he added.

Lewis then asked if he could get copies of residents’ complaints (he was told that he would need to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the town clerk) and if he could stage a one-day event where people could gauge the level of noise generated by conducting sound studies.

Jasinski shot that request down, however, stating that the special use permit was a prerequisite to any formal activity on the property.

“If you want anything to go on your property, you need to follow through with the letter the engineers sent to you,” she said. “You need to start sending us the information, and they outlined that very clearly.”

At that point, Cory Coles, who lives on Pratt Road, brought up that Lewis is “soliciting his customers and others to sign a pre-written letter and sending them to the town, himself” (which later was verified by Jasinski).

“Having people from outside the town and Genesee County sending letters that claim our concerns are not valid is absolutely ridiculous,” Coles said. “… to be told that my concerns are not valid even from somebody 10 miles away is pretty unbelievable to me.”

Coles is opposed due to the noise factor, and said that project supporters are contending that the discharge of firearms in the distance is no different than a blown out tire on the Thruway.

“I’ve been living here for a few years and I can confirm that I do not hear 100 tires blowing out on the Thruway every 15 minutes,” he offered.

Resorting to Name-calling?

Then he reported that comments on The Firing Pin Facebook page and discord server have disparaged nearby residents, with terms such as “idiots, morons and even Nazis.”

“One person going as far to suggest that we all should go out into the middle of I-90, presumably to get run over,” he said, adding that he questions the legitimacy of some of the emails and comments.

Coles said photos of the residence of a sheriff’s deputy who lives in that area were uploaded to the discord server, as well.

“Bottom line is it’s kind of concerning. Mr. Lewis claimed over and over how he wants to be a good neighbor, but I just can’t seem to see where he cares if he does or not,” he said.

After dealing with agenda items (special use permits for a solar system on R. Stephen Hawley Drive and a drive-thru for the new Chipotle restaurant on Veterans Memorial Drive), planners revisited the shooting range proposal.

Paul McCullough said he talked to a neighbor who is “quite concerned with the direction of fire and having Area 51 on one side and the shooting range on the other” and about the hours of operation.

Jasinski reported that Mosier is scheduled to address the board at its next meeting for a review of his special use permit.

Chair Says She Will Monitor the Situation

Another question pertained to Lewis’ right to shoot on the property as the owner, with Jasinski saying that is permitted but he can’t hold events. She then said she would monitor Lewis’ website and Facebook page, and if she heard something was going on there, she would check it out.

In closing, Jonathan Long said the way things are proceeding – or not – is leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

“It’s a bad first introduction for the neighbors – the property owners that have been in the town for many years,” he said. “The stuff online in my opinion is just not right. But, like you said, he hasn’t addressed any of the issues in the engineer’s letter; he hasn’t really given us a site plan of what he really wants to do, so until that happens, we’ll have to wait on it, I guess.”

The Batavian obtained a copy of the letter from Town Engineer Steve Mountain.

In it, Lewis is required to submit a detailed project description; and existing conditions, potential impacts and mitigation pertaining to the environment, traffic, community character, community facilities, fiscal impacts, land use and zoning, sanitary sewage and water supply, and water resources.

The plan also requires a coordinated review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act because it exceeds 10 acres.

Previously: Residents speak out against proposed outdoor shooting range on Harloff Road in Town of Batavia

April 21, 2021 - 7:41am

If the sentiments from people who live in the neighborhood are any indication, Brandon Lewis may be facing an uphill fight to acquire the special use permit he needs to develop an outdoor shooting range on Harloff Road in the Town of Batavia.

Several residents of nearby Kelsey Road and Pratt Road voiced their opinions Tuesday night during a 40-minute public hearing conducted by the Batavia Town Planning Board via Zoom videoconferencing.

Their objections centered upon, primarily, the noise generated by the shooting as well as safety measures, the impact on property values and whether it is a good fit for the area.

Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin indoor shooting club in Bergen, is looking to place an outdoor shooting venue, along with a small movie theater, RV park and other entertainment options, on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Road. The property is not far from Area 51 Motocross and the New York State Thruway.

Linda and Tomporowski, of Kelsey Road, said that they don’t object to the concept, but want Lewis to find another location.

'It's Just the Wrong Location'

“It just seems that anytime a new business comes up that is noise-generated, it seems to go up on Harloff Road,” Linda said. “We have Area 51 and we have to deal with that seven days a week, pretty much year round. We were originally told that it was going to be limited, but it has not been that way.

“So, we’re very concerned that if another special use permit goes through, it’s going to become unlimited use again – there’s no enforcement – and that just really does not allow me to enjoy my property.”

She said she considers it a “great proposal” and she isn’t anti-gun or antibusiness.

“I think it’s the right business, but just the wrong location. It’s definitely going to cause undue noise … in a residential-agricultural area.”

Linda then asked the planning board to deny the special use permit “based on the fact that the primary use of this property is a shooting range.”

She also cited sections of the planning board code, mentioning that it calls for “a harmonious relationship between the proposed use and the existing, adjacent uses, and there’s really nothing harmonious for me with a shooting range in my backyard. We’ve heard them shooting before; it’s very clear.”

'There Will be Repetitive Shooting' 

Her husband brought up that Lewis had mentioned conducting shooting drills.

“It’s not just junior shooting daddy’s rifle eight times at a target,” he said. “When he talks about drills, some of the stuff is going to be tactical, which means multiple magazines. Law enforcement officers are exempt from the SAFE Act and they can use 30-round magazines and they will be popping shots – doing all of their drills.”

Jason urged the board to “pull back a little bit” and learn specifically what Lewis is looking to do and address it appropriately at that time.

Rich Schildwaster, also of Kelsey Road, said he is an avid outdoorsman with military experience who doesn’t have an issue with a gun range, but is concerned with “the manner of what they are looking to do out there.”

“He has painted a beautiful picture, he really has,” Schildwaster said. “We’re going to have a movie theater, we’re going to have a fitness center, we’re going to have an RV lot … and various activities. When it comes to a special use permit, I don’t think various activities cut the mustard as far as what he is going to be doing out there.”

Schildwaster said he worries about the safety of residents of a mobile home park beyond the Thruway and reeled off other potential issues such as shooting at night, noise levels, training, size of the RV lot and hours of operation.

'It Will be Intrusive on Property Values'

“I’m not in favor … he’s not quieter than the Thruway and, absolutely, 1.2 miles as the crow flies from that range, I can hear him shooting and his cohort shooting recently over the top of the motorcycles running at the same time at Area 51,” he said. “It will be intrusive on my property and it will be intrusive on the values of all of our properties in the neighborhood.”

Kevin and Paul Heist, both of Pratt Road, followed, with Kevin stating that the daytime shooting hours would affect him as he works from home.

“Also, it seems like the plan is all over the place,” he said, adding that he wanted specifics about the safety protocol since there would be a movie theater on the site. He also requested proper environmental studies be conducted before the project moves forward.

Paul Heist said he lives straight across the Thruway from Area 51 and is troubled about the noise volume.

“I haven’t seen anything that he’s produced as far as hiding the noise. Is there any verification that it works?” he asked.

He also mentioned that he lives next door to the Silver Shoe Farms, which has 10 horses, who are sensitive to their hearing and could be spooked by the gunfire. He then called out the town for not enforcing the excessive noise generated by “cycles with no mufflers” at Area 51.

'Guns are Louder Than Jets'

Cory Coles, of Pratt Road, also requested that the board deny the special use permit.

He said he was aware of some shooting going on there a couple weeks ago, and said that unsuppressed guns are louder than motocross bikes and train horns.

“They say the Thruway is there and Area 51 is there, so it’s already noisy,” he offered. “If that’s the case, why don’t we build an airport there, which is funny, as by the way, passenger jet engines are not as loud as guns are.”

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he has received 21 phone calls about the project, covering these similar issues. One of the letters was from Nicole Cable, owner of the horse stable, who has “massive concerns” as some of the horses she tends to are not hers.

'A Great Addition to Batavia'

At that point, Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski read excerpts of three letters in support of Lewis.

The letters stated that the shooting range would:

  • Be a great addition to Batavia, bringing more money to the town, and promoted Lewis as making safety his top priority;
  • Be a nice change and create positive tax revenue, and with the proper rules and regulations, be safe for the neighbors;
  • Be, per the Bergen Planning Board, “a beneficial addition to the Batavia community since The Firing Pin and Mr. Lewis have become an integral part of our community, participating in fundraising events, hosting gun safety, hunting classes and bringing much needed notoriety to our little town.”

Matthew Hume, the architect working with Lewis, concurred.

“I totally understand everybody’s concerns. I also live on Pratt Road, so it’s kind of in my backdoor as well. I’ve worked quite a bit with both Brandon and his father, and I can tell you that their family – they’re incredible people, they’re more than willing to work with the community,” he said. "They’re not looking to make any enemies here, they’re really just looking to provide different alternatives for the community.”

Hume said Lewis welcomes feedback if there are any issues and would be “more than happy to work out the details so that everybody can be happy.”

'Special Use Permit Must be Limited'

Planning Board Member Don Partridge said he wanted to know when the special use permit granted to Area 51 would be reviewed – Jasinski said that is scheduled for May – and then mentioned that he is leaning in favor of Lewis’ permit as long as it is “limited.”

“Hopefully, he will operate it properly and we won’t have any complaints,” Partridge said.

Jason Tomporowski then got back on the call, indicating that if Area 51 wasn’t already there, the shooting range would stand a better chance of being accepted.

“It’s the noise. I’ve had it,” Tomporowski said. “We moved out to the country so I could live in peace, and that’s my big issue. If there’s some way that I can see a plan on how he’s planning on muffling the noise, with barrier walls, earth and tire mounds, something.”

Schildwaster rejoined the conversation, directing a question to Lewis.

“I just wonder if he would be willing to reveal how many people have shot themselves at his facility in Bergen? It’s probably more than one, whether it was fatal or not, how many people have had accidental shootings in his Bergen facility?” Schildwaster asked.

Jasinski said that question wasn’t appropriate for the public hearing, but Schildwaster was undeterred.

“Why wouldn’t that be pertinent to this hearing when he’s bringing a range here and we’re talking about safety? If he’s already operating a range, why wouldn’t that be a question that the town … would have?” Schildwaster replied.

'The Question was Inappropriate'

Jasinski then asked Lewis if he wished to respond.

“I prefer not to only because I am somewhat taken back,” Lewis said. “I understand the nature of the question, but I don’t think that it was asked in a sincere way. I’ll be completely honest and I’m getting a little bit choked up. We did have a suicide at the range (The Firing Pin), which was completely unavoidable.

“I can’t control someone’s actions when they decide to make that decision, so I believe that gentleman knew that. That is the only incident that we’ve ever had in that regard. And I agree with you, chairperson, that that wasn’t appropriate.”

Lewis had opened the public hearing with a brief statement – emphasizing he wishes “to bring a professional, safe training and shooting center to the Town of Batavia, the likes of which really have not been seen in this region.”

“I think it would be quite a draw to the Town of Batavia from shooters and firearms’ enthusiasts, law enforcement, countless groups that would be interested in this type of training from the firearms side alone.”

Jasinski indicated the process of authorizing the special use permit will take some time.

“We’re not doing anything tonight. After this, we will be talking about it and putting it on the agenda. People are welcome to attend our meetings – we have a lot of things to look into,” she said.

Previously: Planners seek specifics about schedule, noise abatement as they contemplate Harloff Road shooting range plan

April 7, 2021 - 4:55pm

firingpinchamberaward2018.jpg

Town of Batavia Planning Board members concur that details – not conceptual drawings, ideas or generalities – ultimately will determine the course of Brandon Lewis’ request for a special use permit to develop an upscale shooting club, along with other entertainment options, on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Rd.

On Tuesday night, planners posed several questions to Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, and Matthew Hume, a Batavia architect who drew up the site plan on property not far from Area 51 Motocross and the New York State Thruway.

Lewis kicked off the Zoom meeting with an overview of his plan and ended it – about 50 minutes later – by agreeing to provide specific information pertaining to hours of operation, the level of target practice, and safety measures prior to an April 20 public hearing on the matter.

It was the second time Lewis appeared before the board. He spoke briefly about the project last month following a presentation of his proposal to the Genesee County Planning Board.

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski advised Lewis that the board and other town officials have received numerous letters from residents about the plan – with some for it and some against it. She said that safety and noise are two of the major concerns.

Along those lines, planner Paul Marchese said it was imperative that Lewis give board members as many details as possible – the who, what, where, when, why and how – in order for them to make the best decision for the town and its residents.

'Carte blanche' is not an option

“You’re going to have to have some defined tasks – for approval or disapproval,” Marchese said. “We can’t give you a blanket, do what you want out there. From your wide scope events, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just giving you carte blanche approval on something that’s not defined – especially for a special use permit.”

Marchese said Area 51 has a set schedule and there isn’t much latitude when it comes to special use permits.

“I think it’s an interesting concept (but I’m) concerned about continual firearms – it’s pretty loud,” he said, also wanting to know what type of guns will be allowed. “I can understand why the neighbors would be concerned.”

Prior to Marchese’s comments, Lewis touted his “professional approach” to the venture, noting that he and his staff have the qualifications and experience to run a safe and successful shooting range. His plan also includes a small drive-in theater and RV park (primarily for overnight guests) and having the property serve as an event venue for concerts and car shows, for example.

Lewis said he believes that the layout and topography of the land, with its hills and berms, are a good fit for the shooting range, which would serve law enforcement personnel, club members and the general population.

“Another (thing we could provide) would be paintball,” he said. “With 22 acres, the way the land is situated, we could easily run paintball out there with the board’s approval. It’s easy to set up – nothing to construct or build – other than the blow up areas that people use for that type of activity.”

Hours of operation a bone of contention

That all seemed well and good to the board, which turned its focus to shooting days and times as well as noise mitigation after Lewis proposed being open seven days a week – possibly from dawn to dusk.

“We’re looking at a mixed model of operation. We’ll be a private club; the shooting range will be a private club,” Lewis said. “Our intent is Monday through Friday during the work week (and) it will only be open to members. To be a member of the club, you have to take a very extensive safety class. You’ll essentially become an NRA (National Rifle Association) … certified range safety officer, and that covers a lot of information.”

Lewis said he would like to pattern the club after the privately owned Rochester Brooks in Rush.

He said the level of staffing would increase on the weekends, much like The Firing Pin.

“You would come down as a member of the public (with) quicker but still extensive safety briefing to get you up to speed,” he said. “When you’re out on the range shooting – under those circumstances -- there will be a range safety officers present within arm’s reach, monitoring everybody and keeping everybody safe.”

At this point, planner Paul McCullough asked about the normal operating hours.

A later start is a possibility

Lewis said that most people target shoot from dawn to dusk, but he would be open to starting later – maybe at 9 or 10 a.m.

“Depending on the interest and the activities that we’re doing, you’re right, it would probably be dusk – especially obviously in the winter months,” he said. “In the summer, we might push that back on certain nights. Doing trap or skeet, a lot of people work until four or five and couldn’t come out until seven or eight o’clock, and we would cut it off at whatever time is required.”

He did add that he would like to be open at night at different times to accommodate law enforcement and civilians who want to practice shooting with low-level light, using a flashlight or other device.

McCullough said his “concern” was the potential of seven days a week with up to 10 hours a day of potential gunfire.

“I would like to know exactly what days and what hours to inform the neighbors,” he said. “Just the constant noise, I think, will be my issue.”

Lewis said he will clearly define the night shooting, especially in the summer, and hoped to be able to schedule it in connection with Area 51 racing that currently is permitted to 11 p.m.

Noise level can be suppressed

“But that would certainly be limited – maybe twice a month. Another thing, going back to the range design, there’s a lot that you can do to try to keep the sound from property as much as you can with different landscaping and physical sound barriers,” he advised.

“As far the long distance ranges where you would be shooting the bigger firearms, there’s a very interesting technique … of using large tires, suspending them from an A frame and you almost make a suppressor outside out of tires … it knocks out a lot of the noise. We’ll have from various shooting positions with the larger firearms, will essentially be shooting from inside of a structure with sound proofing material that will help soak up a lot of that. We fully understand that noise will be a concern and we want to do what we can to alleviate that.”

Partridge then suggested limiting the hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

“If we go into that route of limiting your hours, how many times a month would you need, let’s say, to dusk -- twice a month?” Partridge said. “I could see allowing it during the weekdays (that) you’re going to go to dusk twice a month or once a month, but that has to be spelled out in your permit.”

Lewis said he would work with town officials to come up with a plan that works for everybody.

Logistically, Lewis said the land will be divided into several “bays,” taking advantage of the artificial hill that was made when Polar Wave tubing occupied the site.

“We’ll be enhancing with some ballistic rubber (that is) perfectly suitable to use on outdoor range,” he said. “It will make it much safer, increases our berm depth, makes it a much more consistent berm that you can shoot into – and it makes it much easier to clean, which is another huge concern of ours. Obviously, the remediation and keeping tabs on the lead to manage the property without hurting the environment (are important).”

He also pointed out the height of the berms (14 to 16 feet) as a positive thing, but acknowledged that having five different ranges – and modifications for competitions – bring about challenges in defining exactly where those target areas will be at various times.

What about existing gun clubs?

After Building Inspector Dan Lang mentioned that there are other shooting ranges in the Town of Batavia, Lewis asked if they were regulated by special use permits or “grandfathered in.”

Lang said the private club on Hopkins Road has been there for quite some time and wasn’t sure of the process used to sanction it.

“Trap shooting is what they focus on, and they also have private membership (with no limits on the type of firearms),” Lang said. “They’ve always had that set schedule, and we haven’t gotten any complaints. It’s gone through that cycle already.

“This being a new proposal, there is a lot more involved with it. Some of the tactical stuff and the training, I think is as important as anything. But would they be considered grandfathered in? Yes.”

Hume added that members of the Hopkins Road club can shoot anytime of the day, and noted that they schedule special events on specific days.

As far as Lewis’ proposal, Hume said that even though they may be open seven days a week, there won’t be shooting for 24 hours.

“Sometimes you get that guy that has a little time during the day … and I think that is what Brandon is trying to provide to his members as well. He doesn’t want to have to say you can only go there on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., and that’s it,” Hume said.

The more information, the better

Town Engineer Steve Mountain reiterated the need for Lewis to be “as descriptive as you possibly can at this time on operations and how things are controlled.”

“The concept site plan layout is good but there is so much more information that the planning board is going to need before ultimately making a decision,” Mountain said.

Jasinski then advised Lewis to prepare for the April 20th public hearing, adding that no decision will be made at that meeting although all letters and emails sent to the planning board will be shared at the hearing.

“We will just listen to the comments and we will work as fast as you can get the information to us,” she said.

In the long term, Lewis said he would like to see the shooting range succeed and eventually find “another home for it” as the other uses at the venue take hold.

“I don’t want to say it’s a means to an end (as) the shooting range is where our base is and have the most support. I do see the need for it and certainly believe in it, and I do think the property is very well suited for it. So, I definitely see getting a lot of support from our already established customer base for that use,” he offered. “Again, maybe to help us develop a better one down the road and some of these other uses can really take over and use the property. I’d be completely fine with that.”

Previously: Planners pepper shooting range developer with questions about safety, noise, movie screen glare, berms

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

File photo: Brandon Lewis at The Firing Pin, 2018.

March 12, 2021 - 4:06pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Planning Board, The Firing Pin.

Genesee County Planning Board members Thursday night fired off a few rounds of questions about safety, noise, glare and berms to the Brockport man proposing to develop an outdoor shooting range and drive-in theater on Harloff Road in the Town of Batavia.

At its meeting held via Zoom videoconferencing, the board recommended approval -- with modifications concerning stormwater pollution mitigation and acquiring the proper permits – of a special use permit and site plan for Brandon Lewis to construct and operate the business for shooting, firearms training, general recreation, fitness training and family entertainment, including a drive-in movie theater.

The venture, which is scheduled to go before the Batavia Town Planning Board next Tuesday, would be located at 3269 Harloff Road, not far from the Area 51 Motocross layout.

Lewis was asked about the placement of the theater screen and whether it would be visible to motorists on the nearby Thruway. He responded that he would make sure that wouldn’t be the case, but the board agreed to include that to the suggested modifications.

Planners also inquired about the number of berms or trees on the parcel, specifically on the west side between the rifle range and the neighboring property. Lewis said that a berm already is in place there along with a 12-foot retaining wall.

Concerning the possibility of noise from the shooting, Lewis said while the natural berms would “deflect sound from going onto the Thruway,” he also plans to plant more trees.

“It won’t be as disruptive as a semi going down the Thruway,” he said.

The board then asked about the hours of operation. Lewis said it mostly be during regular daytime business hours, but didn’t leave out the possibility of special target shooting event in the evening.

Furthermore, Lewis, who grew up in East Bethany, made it clear that no shooting will take place when the movie theater is open.

“We want safety for everyone,” he said.

Planners also considered the following referrals:

  • 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. Approval with the modification that the site plan complies with all applicable floodplain construction requirements.
  • 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. Approval with modifications pertaining to driveway permits, stormwater pollution prevention, proper lighting and adherence to 9-1-1 standards.
  • 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. Approval with modifications pertaining to relocating a portion of the driveway and equipment pad to the edge of the field and adherence to 9-1-1 standards.

March 11, 2021 - 11:18am

recreation_3.jpg

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.

February 18, 2021 - 2:27pm

Press release:

American Warrior Festival, in partnership with parent company Strength In Numbers Entertainment, is proud to announce the launch of their national virtual event series -- with roots in Genesee County -- in their ongoing efforts to support our country’s veterans and those currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.

The entertainment organization is making its return after the unprecedented circumstances of last year, which caused the team to pause on some of their most anticipated live events.

American Warrior Festival’s spring virtual events are currently open for registration and end on March 25th with more events to follow. All are welcome to register to attend virtually and can participate at their own pace.

“Obviously, we were forced to hit the pause button just like everyone else when the pandemic hit; however, we found that the hiatus allowed us to rebuild and refocus on our mission, and we created an even better experience for our veterans and their families," says Dan Clor, American Warrior Festival founder and owner, Marine Corps veteran, and host of The American Warrior Festival Podcast. With this new virtual platform, we are now able to reach more veterans, and further spread our message."

Clor is partnering with The Firing Pin, an indoor shooting range in Bergen, for the virtual events in Genesee County.

Virtual Event Series Details

2021 AWF Medal of Honor Marksmanship Competition 

You can register and enter your score anytime between now and March 25th.

What You Will Do

To begin the drill, draw at the sound of the shot timer/verbal command/other signal and engage the target 10 times within the 10-second time standard. The objective is to score as many points as possible within the allotted time. Any ties resulting from points in a competition setting are broken by referring to the individual time; the next tiebreaker goes to the fastest engagement of the target.

Once you complete the drill:

1. Post your video in the “Discussion” area of the Facebook event page.

2. Enter your score into the leaderboard.

3. All participants who have completed the drill and entered their time into the system will be entered into a prize drawing to be held on Medal of Honor Day, March 25th, 2021. You will also receive a 2021 American Warrior Festival Medal of Honor T-shirt for completing the event.

For full details and to sign up for the event, click here.

2021 AWF Medal of Honor Virtual Run

National Medal of Honor Day is observed every year on March 25th and is dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients.

“Each branch of the U.S. military awards the Medal of Honor to those who have distinguished themselves ‘conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity’ above and beyond the call of duty,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs official website.

In this time of social distancing, get in shape, connect with your friends and family through weekly trainings and compete for the best final times! Share your photos on social media to enter our weekly raffle for prizes.

Details:

1. Signup for the Virtual 5K, 10-miler, Fun Run/Walk or join a team.

2. All times are tracked through the leaderboard to add to the competitive fun.

3. Registration includes a T-Shirt, Medal, 10-percent off gifts and apparel in our merchant store, and partially as a donation to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Organization.

4. Includes a six-week virtual training course led by an experienced trainer and veteran.

To purchase tickets for the Ruck Run, click here.

“Our sponsors and team make this all possible. The tremendous support from local and national organizations, private businesses, individuals, ticket sales, concessions, and merchandise all go to help our veterans,” adds Clor. “This is just the beginning; get ready for more great news to come!”

A VA study on mental health concluded that, on average, 20 Veterans commit suicide a day and that the suicide rate is highest among veterans between 18 to 29. The American Warrior Festival and Strength In Numbers Entertainment mission is to help support organizations working toward veteran suicide prevention.

Help us defeat these horrific statistics through donations, participation, and sharing with others. It’s important to get our message out there, especially during these difficult times.

Partial proceeds from registration for each event go to veteran organizations such as The War Fighter Community FoundationMission 22, and Broken Warriors Angels.

For more information on how you can help support our veterans, please email Dan Clor at:  [email protected].

About American Warrior Festival

American Warrior Festival provides entertainment for the brave men and women who have served and are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces and gives them access to veteran support resources through our nonprofit partners. For more information visit: https://americanwarriorfestival.com/.

About Strength In Numbers Entertainment

Strength In Numbers Entertainment is a concert and event company that creates and promotes events, tours featuring heavy, edgier bands and artists spanning across multiple genres. For more information visit: https://strengthinnumbersent.com/.

January 20, 2020 - 7:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in The Firing Pin, bergen, news, notify.

gun-rally-dump-2-3-1068x712.jpg

Brandon Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, didn't travel to Virginia this weekend to become a bit of a celebrity.

He just wanted to support fellow gun owners in a state facing potential gun laws as restrictive, or perhaps more so, than what has already been imposed on New Yorkers.

"In this day and age, we could never stand up against the government with all of their drones and tanks but this shows where we came from," Lewis said tonight during his drive back from Virginia.  "The government is us. The government is of the people and by the people and for the people and it's good to remind them of that, that there is a Second Amendment, which is a kind of check and balance."

Lewis brought with him his Barrett M82A1 rifle, a .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle, which is nearly five-feet long and weighs 29.7 pounds.

"I guess it's a certain eye-catching firearm and that was kind of the point," Lewis said. "If we're going to go, let's bring something we have and I know every time I bring it out to the shop, everybody drops what they're doing.  

"I didn't think it would be quite as popular as it was," Lewis added. "I thought I'd get some thumbs up and some high-fives but it got crazy at times."

As soon as one person asked to take a picture of Lewis, 10 more would join in, he said.

He's been featured in the Washington Post, New York Post, and the Virginia Mercury

Lewis said he made the trip for two reasons: One is gun owners in Virginia are facing a new restrictive gun law that appears to have support of the Virginia Legislature (Virginia is apparently dealing with the same kind of urban domination of rural counties that has beset New York) and there is also a law that would all but ban indoor ranges.

Lewis, of course, operates an indoor range.  

He said it's his understanding the law would either say indoor ranges need to be government-owned or that 90 percent of the customers would need to work for a government agency, such as police departments or the military, which, Lewis fears, would lead to range owners collecting data on users of their facilities that would then become data accessible by the government.

The rally was attended by an estimated 22,000 gun rights advocates and news reports indicate it was peaceful and without incident.

Lewis said he and his wife Anna-Marie were among the last to leave. As they were heading out of town, they listened to a public radio station that apparently has offices overlooking the public space where the rally was held. He said the announcers noted that the protest area was the cleanest they had ever seen it following a rally.

"We kind of took a Boy Scout attitude of 'leave no trace,' " Lewis said. "I don't know if that came from the organizers, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, or people just took it upon themselves but at the end, it was police-trash time and everybody picked up their garbage."

Photo: By Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury. Used with the permission of the Virginia Mercury.

October 10, 2019 - 10:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rob Ortt, NY-27, video, The Firing Pin.
Video Sponsor

Sen. Rob Ortt, who is also a candidate for congression in the NY-27, spent much of his day in Genesee County on Wednesday, first attending the veterans town hall in Corfu about the new national cemetary, then paying a visit to The Firing Pin in Bergen, and then holding a meet-and-greet at Ken's Charcoal Pits & Bar-B-Q.

The Batavian caught up with Ortt at The Firing Pin.

September 28, 2019 - 7:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in The Firing Pin, veterans, video, bergen.
Video Sponsor

The Firing Pin hosted a “22 to None Fun Run” in support Mission 22, an organization dedicated to assisting veterans in getting treatment when they need it most.

The event included a 2.2K fun run, raffles, food and beer.

“I have personally lost seven friends that I was deployed with to veteran suicide,” said Patrick Kimball, TFP Advanced Training director and combat veteran. “Together, we can help our veterans get the help they deserve before it’s too late.”

September 26, 2019 - 5:40pm

Press release:

Every day, more than 20 U.S. military veterans take their own lives. The Firing Pin (TFP), Western New York’s finest indoor shooting range, is hosting a community fundraiser Saturday, Sept. 28, with all proceeds going toward efforts to reduce veteran suicide.

The Firing Pin’s “22 to None Fun Run” will support Mission 22, an organization dedicated to assisting veterans in getting treatment when they need it most.

The event includes a 2.2K fun run, raffles, food trucks, live music and a craft beer tent.The event’s title sponsor, Rochester Precision Optics, is looking to hire veterans. They will have a booth at the event with more information.

“I have personally lost seven friends that I was deployed with to veteran suicide,” said Patrick Kimball, TFP Advanced Training director and combat veteran who will be speaking at the event. “Together, we can help our veterans get the help they deserve before it’s too late.”

Who: The Firing Pin, LLC and Mission 22

What: 22 to None Fun Run

  • 22 to None Fun Run -- 2.2K run/walk (map on second page)

  • Chinese/Silent Auctions

  • Craft beer tent by Eli Fish Brewing Company (all proceeds directly to Mission 22)

  • Food trucks - Center Street Smokehouse, Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, wood-fired pizza from American Masonry

When: Saturday, Sept. 28

Schedule of Events:

  • 9 a.m. -- Shop and range open; raffles begin

  • 10 a.m. -- Registration for Fun Run

  • 11 a.m. -- 2.2K Fun Run

  • 11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. -- Beer tent and food trucks

  • 1 - 4 p.m. -- Live music from The Fog

Where: The Firing Pin LLC, 8240 Buffalo Road, Bergen

Why: The sad truth is that more veterans die at home on U.S. soil than in combat zones overseas. Mission 22 is a registered 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to healing America’s veterans when they need it most -- right now. The Firing Pin family has been personally affected by veteran suicide and wants to unite the community in raising awareness and support for our veterans. ALL proceeds from the event will go directly to Mission 22.

Below is the route of the 2.2K Fun Run/Walk, coustesy of Firing Pin General Manager Joshua W. Hawkins.

March 1, 2018 - 6:46pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in The Firing Pin, bergen, news, Chamber Awards, business.

firingpinchamberaward2018.jpg

This is the fourth in a series of five stories about the honorees at this Saturday's annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is being held at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.

The Firing Pin in Bergen is a friendly place to visit. Owner Brandon Lewis is a big reason why. Open and gregarious, he's eager to help his customers and ensure when they come to use the range they do so safely and get the most enjoyment from it as possible.

The store is brightly lit, clean and well-stocked.  

It's no wonder, the Firing Pin was selected by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce as the Innovative Enterprise of the Year.

Lewis, the owner, said he was humbled to receive the award.

“When you go into business, you never know what’s going to happen,” Lewis said. “To be recognized for the work you do is the icing on the cake. It can’t get better than that.”

Lewis started planning to open The Firing Pin in 2011. He wanted to offer a facility with a full range of products and services, that was not a typical gun shop. He felt it was something the community needed, and the public responded well to the business.

“We cater to those who are afraid of guns, and those who use guns,” Lewis said. “We cater to every skill level. We’re a destination for anyone who is looking to be better.”

The facility, located at 8240 Buffalo Road, was built in 2013 and opened in 2014.

Lewis went to Alexander High School when he thought of the idea of running his own place. The idea took time to develop, so he went to St. John Fisher College.

He took a job at Gander Mountain, and decided he wanted to open a place that gave more training, the right training, and safe training.

Lewis is an eagle scout, a certified NRA pistol and rifle instructor, a certified GLOCK Armorer and a black belt in Taekwondo.  

“Everywhere down south there are gun shops and ranges,” Lewis said. “It is popular down south and it’s something I felt we needed.”

The Firing Pin is open seven days a week, Monday from noon until 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. They offer group rates, memberships and firearm rentals, in addition to one-on-one training with NRA certified instructors.

More information and pricing can be found here.

firingpinchamberaward2018-2.jpg

firingpinchamberaward2018-3.jpg

firingpinchamberaward2018-4.jpg

firingpinchamberaward2018-5.jpg

firingpinchamberaward2018-6.jpg

firingpinchamberaward2018-7.jpg

June 22, 2015 - 12:30pm


Venture Crew 556 CHICKEN BBQ on June 27th from 12pm - till sold out. Chicken, salt potatoes, baked beans & dinner rolls - $10!

 

 

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 

Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button