Too much controversy now, say Kurtz Ranch landowners

Too much controversy now, say Kurtz Ranch landowners   Second Amendment Firearms Experience
By Scott Rochat Longmont Times-Call Longmont Times-Call

FIRESTONE — Owners of the Kurtz Ranch, which had been slated for a firearms training center, have withdrawn their request to annex into Firestone.

The 900-acre property near Colo. Highway 66 and Weld County Road 17 has been the center of debate since December, when a company called the Second Amendment Firearms Experience first announced plans to build the training center. Several neighbors objected, saying it would be too loud, too unsafe, too close to wildlife, and that by annexing into Firestone, the nearby Mead and Platteville-based residents would lose any voice in the process —
claims that SAFE managing partner Ron Abramson disputed repeatedly during lengthy public hearings.

On Friday, Don Jones, a representative of the ranch’s owners, wrote the town saying enough was enough.
“I am writing to request officially on behalf of my clients … that the Kurtz Ranch Annexation be withdrawn,” Jones said. “As we have discussed, we believe that because of the controversy that has been generated, it is not a good time to proceed with the proposed annexation and zoning.”

The town announced the move Wednesday. The Firestone Board of Trustees was due to consider the annexation on April 24.

Town planner Bruce Nickerson said this didn’t rule out a future application and that the town was still talking with the ranch’s owners.

“It’s not out of our sphere of discussion,” he said.

Abramson said SAFE remains under contract with the Kurtz Ranch and that the site is still the company’s preference, whether it winds up in Firestone, another town, or staying in Weld County.

“We think it’s the perfect location for us and that we’re the perfect occupant for it,” he said.

He added that the company does have other locations it can consider, if necessary, and that he hopes to see the SAFE center open this year.

The training center was designed to include seven covered ranges, classrooms, a retail area, a video training simulator and a “shoot house” area. Outdoor ranges also originally were part of the plans for the 10-acre SAFE center, but were cut after discussions with wildlife officials.

Firestone had been set to consider the annexation and the design in February. But hearings before the Firestone Planning and Zoning Commission stretched for nine hours and played to a packed house. The exchanges grew tense more than once, with one opponent calling Abramson an untrustworthy “shapeshifter,” while Abramson said his critics were living in an “Alice in Wonderland” reality where “right is wrong, black is white and truths are lies.”
Finally, at a Feb. 13 hearing before the Firestone town board, Abramson withdrew the plans, saying he needed more time to redesign the facility. At the same meeting, Jones asked for the annexation to be postponed to April, so that the owners could explore their options.

Nickerson said that Firestone had approached Platteville and Mead about an inter-governmental agreement on the subject after both communities expressed concerns about the SAFE center. He said Platteville declined and that no answer had been received from Mead.

Spokesman Ed Saunders of Save The Vrain, the principal group that organized against the gun center, could not be reached for comment.

Abramson said Wednesday that after further discussions with range and acoustics advisers, the plans have been re-engineered to restore the outdoor shooting ranges.

“We feel it’s appropriate and reasonable,” he said.

Scott Rochat can be reached at 303-684-5220 or