Judge orders gun club to close, but fines will no longer accumulate
A Washington County judge convened a status conference on Robinson Township’s ongoing legal dispute with Iron City Armory, doing business as Iron City Gun Club, and she ordered that it must cease operations pending the court’s decision on a land-use appeal.In light of the closure, any accumulation of fines, potentially in the thousands of dollars, imposed by the township against the armory or its owner, Jason Doetzer, ceased as of Monday, and the township must make no effort to collect any fines or costs related to this matter pending further court action.A website for Iron City Armory on Monday listed the hours as “closed today,” and there was no answer at its business phone number.Judge Katherine B. Emery plans to hear arguments in the case Dec. 15. A hearing on the township’s request for a preliminary injunction, which had been scheduled for earlier that week, has been postponed until the court decides the zoning appeal issue.The most recent development stems from the township zoning officer’s approval of an application from Iron City in April and issuance of a permit that allowed Doetzer to operate a gun club on property at 920 King Road, Bulger, with certain restrictions.The zoning permit allowed only for the gun range to operate as a club and not as a commercial operation.Robinson Township residents appealed the issuance of the permit to the local zoning hearing board, which, over the summer, voted unanimously to reverse the zoning officer’s action, calling it a mistake. They expressed concerns about safety and noise.The notice of violation came as Doetzer was selling ammunition and targets at the range, was advertising gun rentals at the site and was applying for a federal firearms license to manufacture or sell guns at the range. Doetzer defended himself at the zoning hearing, saying he was clear about his plans to eventually open a store.“After we were hit with the first violation, we shut down the store and only sold memberships. We sold 800 memberships. I’m investing money in this community, and this is the thanks I get,” he said a few months ago.Doetzer could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday at the gun range.Robinson Township solicitor Gretchen Moore presented evidence and testimony at the zoning hearing from McDonald police Officer Brad Resnik, who conducted two undercover operations to document sales at the range. Resnik said on July 17, two confidential informants bought $66 worth of targets and ammunition and two, two-hour memberships for $15.