Proposed Saluda firing range dispute not over yet

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 20, 2018

Henderson County looking at alternatives for law enforcement training facility

HENDERSONVILLE — While hundreds stood in line to get into its Wednesday meeting, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners discussed the proposed law enforcement training facility near Saluda.

The meeting, which started at 9 a.m., lasted until 65 to 70 people finished commenting about the issue, at around 3:30 that afternoon.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Saluda resident and “Save Saluda” activist Susan McHugh was there by 8:30 a.m. to sign up to speak. She said the commissioners have backed off on this site, but did not vote Wednesday to abandon the site altogether.

“Macedonia Road is the best location we have found to this point so, while not perfect, we can’t abandon it until we find something better,” said Henderson County Board of Commissioners Chairman J. Michael Edney in an email statement to the Bulletin.

Henderson County is considering a 6,000 square foot facility on a 99-acre property, located at 2823 Macedonia Road in Saluda. The proposed facility would have an indoor and outdoor 360-degree training facility, which would include a shooting range.

According to McHugh and Henderson County Manager Steve Wyatt, everyone who spoke during public comment was respectful, and came out in support of good law enforcement training.

“Not one person spoke in favor of this site,” McHugh said.

McHugh said the commissioners discussed the “due diligence” contracts they have on the property at some length. It is her understanding that the commissioners did not vote to abandon the site in the Wednesday meeting because they are waiting to get the results from those reports.

Reports say the environmental and engineering studies will be finished by May 23, and that the commissioners are going to vote whether to move forward with considering the property in the regularly scheduled commission meeting May 7.

McHugh said she understood that, after receiving a letter from the Polk County Commissioners suggesting the two counties work together to locate a more suitable site, the Henderson County board is planning to work with their neighbor search for another location.

“They did not totally abandon this site [Macedonia Road],” she said.

While several commissioners spoke against the Macedonia Road site, McHugh said Grady Hawkins — the commissioner for District 5, where the property is located — expressed support for the site.

Though the Bulletin called Hawkins for comment, he had not responded by press time.

“Do not think there is any chance this energetic committed group of people [Save Saluda] will slow down until there is a vote to abandon this site,” McHugh said. “The idea that you would put a tactical training facility in a pristine area, right on the edge of the gorge, and it not have an impact on the quality of human [life] and the environment is just ridiculous.”