CUMMING, Ga. — Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman met with county residents to communicate information regarding a proposed training facility in the northwest part of the county.
Roughly 40 people gathered at the community building of Coal Mountain Park Sept. 10 evening where Freeman told them “we want to be good neighbors, we want to make sure you know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what it means for our county, for the sheriff’s office and what it might mean for you as Forsyth County residents.”
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners accepted the land for the training facility as a donation from Advanced Disposal, operators of Eagle Point Landfill back in July. According to the deed, Freeman said, the land is to be used for the sole purpose of public safety training which could include other first responders.
Any other uses would cause the property to revert to Advanced Disposal.
Phase 1 of the plan will consist of a 150-yard rifle range, a 130-yard pistol range and an open area currently designated for cars, and will be professionally done, according to Freeman. An obstacle course for SWAT team members is under consideration.
Design specifications include 20-person shooting lanes as opposed to the traditional 12.
Phase 2 and 3 would be a classroom and potentially a simulator, respectively.
There will be fencing and signage as means to prevent the public from entering the area.
He added that the facility will be located near the former Forsyth County-owned landfill but never used to store trash. It is a former mining site and is “useless to them” he added.
The property consists of 17 acres of flat land with a 140-foot berm “which is fantastic” according to Freeman. A berm is a mound of soil often used to buffer noise and provide safety from bullets on firearm ranges.
Freeman said the Oct. 2018 environmental study came back “perfect.”
“Actually the property is virgin…no contaminants, no excessive contaminants were found,” he said.
The initial noise study came back “pretty well” Freeman explained. Pistols and rifles used by his office would not violate noise ordinances. However, certain specialty weapons used by his office — SWAT rifles — are “really, really loud” and those “could be mitigated”.
“I have the ability to suppress those weapons,” Freeman explained. “If those guns cause a problem, I can take the noise away from them. You have my commitment that if those guns cause a problem, that’s exactly what we’ll do.”
Every officer has a suppressor which is commonly known as a silencer although it does not completely silence the weapon, Freeman said.
There will be no usage of the facility on Sundays and citizen training classes might be held on Saturdays. Night training would be during late afternoon and with handguns in winter, Freeman assured attendees.
“Please do not think we’re going to be out there shooting at 10:30 at night, it’s not going to happen,” Freeman said.
Currently training is performed at training ranges in Hall, Cherokee and Pickens counties at a cost of more than $100,000 annually.
To build an indoor range would cost $4-7million. Using local businesses for training would cause their closure for several weeks.
Historically, the Sheriff’s Office has had four firearms ranges. One was on private property off John Burruss Road, and it ceased operation when houses were built nearby. Two ranges were at the quarry off Ronald Regan Boulevard, and the last one was 20 years ago on Old Federal Road, behind the old county landfill.