Gun store

The owner of gun shop Shore Galleries has proposed relocating to 6950 Central Park Ave., shown, and adding a shooting range. (Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune / September 26, 2012)

A court ruling has revived plans for a gun range in Lincolnwood, renewing debate over whether to allow the facility above an existing gun shop.

An Illinois appeals court ruled Monday that the proposal to expand Shore Galleries meets the village zoning code requirement as "recreation," noting that shooting is an Olympic and collegiate sport.

"It's a total vindication of our position," Shore Galleries attorney Stewart Kusper said. "Everybody (at the shop) is very pleased. Now we'll go back to the village to pursue a shooting range."

The Village Board may now consider whether to appeal the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court, Village Manager Timothy Wiberg said. If it doesn't, the issue goes back to Cook County Circuit Court to implement the ruling and then would go through the village review process to see whether it meets all other zoning requirements, he said.

"We would start a typical careful review of all the elements of the plan," Wiberg said.

Efforts to add a firing range to the 58-year-old shop have a long history, according to documents cited by the court.

In 1989, the village denied a request to open a shooting range at the store site at 3318 W. Devon Ave. In 1993, shop owners applied for a similar permit but withdrew it before a decision was made. Four years later, the owners sought to move down the street but were denied.

Then in 2012, owner Mitchell Shore proposed moving to a manufacturing district to open a gun range and shop. Some residents spoke out against the site as being dangerously close to schools and parks, and when the Village Board indicated its opposition, Shore withdrew that petition.

Instead he proposed expanding his current location in a business district. A village zoning officer denied the request, ruling that a gun range did not qualify as a recreational use, and the Village Board agreed, which led Shore to take the fight to court.

The decision comes less than a month after trustees in nearby Niles approved plans for an indoor gun range and shop, even though residents packed the meeting to voice concerns about its proximity to schools.

Marsha Weitzman, a resident of neighboring Skokie, said she is concerned about the proposed ranges and hopes Lincolnwood will fight Shore Galleries' proposal.

"It should be way out in no man's land, someplace where others are not going to be affected," she said. "I understand people need to go there to practice shooting, but they cannot be in any neighborhoods or congested areas."

rmccoppin@tribune.com

Twitter @RobertMcCoppin