PALMER — An indoor gun range that drew protest for plans to locate in downtown Palmer got the permit it needs to proceed.
But officials say there may be little chance the range will actually end up in the former Fred Meyer building that owners hope to occupy.
The Palmer City Council voted 5-2 in favor of a noise permit for the range Tuesday night after 2 1/2 hours of public testimony. Officials also received 75 written comments.
A local company called Valkyrie Security and Asset Protection Inc. is proposing the large 29-lane range and hopes to add a weapons manufacturing business.
Valkyrie's owner had urged the council to adopt the permit so he could locate in the space left empty when a new Fred Meyer store opened across the Glenn Highway last year.
Owner Larry Clark, however, said he'd start looking at other options after the council delayed a decision two weeks ago following public outcry.
Backers say the range provides a needed safe place to shoot. But critics say it has no place in Palmer's snug downtown core.
The real estate agent handling the building sale — it's listed at $6.5 million — and company that hopes to buy it both say Valkyrie is not currently a contender for that space.
"The whole shooting range is nothing that we're involved with or part of or have any knowledge of," said Andrew Ingram, the Jack White Real Estate agent dealing with the sale. "I'm not sure why that guy is referencing the building that is owned by Kroger and going to city council meetings on it."
U-Haul has made an offer on the building and hopes to close the deal at the end of May, according to a corporate official.
The company is in negotiations with Kroger and the city to buy the store, said John Norris, U-Haul Company of Alaska president. "Right now, we are the sole bidder."
U-Haul has the right of first refusal on the contract before Kroger can offer the building to someone else, Norris said.
If the purchase goes forward, U-Haul is planning the company's first all-indoor climate-controlled facility in Alaska.
Clark couldn't immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. But he has said all along he needed the permit before he could start the building purchase process.
Sabrena Combs, the councilor who voted against the permit along with council member Pete LaFrance, said she made her vote in support of public opposition.
Even Combs put the odds Valkyrie would actually occupy the space as low.
"I would say extremely low," she said Wednesday.