An ordinance the Oro Valley Town Council passed in March has come under fire.

The law banned the use of pneumatic guns like paintball, pellet or potato guns. The law also disallows the use of Airsoft guns, a firearm similar to a BB gun that fires plastic projectiles. The ban includes the discharge of such firearms except for target practice on private property.

"These things can't even break a window at point-blank range," Lee Souter told the council at the May 5 meeting.

Souter represented enthusiasts of Airsoft guns, more than 20 of whom also attended the meeting.

The guns are used in war game scenarios, similar to paintball. The Airsoft weapons fire a projectile at 700 feet per second, as opposed to BB guns that fire at more than 1,000 feet per second.

Souter said the new ordinance would actually ban the use of Nerf guns because they also can fire a projectile more than 10 feet. He also noted that a golf ball carries more force that Airsoft projectiles.

The town council adopted the changes after a resident complained about use of air guns.

"Since you are amending ordinances based on a single complaint, I found a golf ball in my yard," Souter said jokingly, then added, "Can we find some common ground here?"

Souter commented during the call to the audience portion of the meeting. He did not address an agenda item and the council did not discuss the issue.

Councilman Barry Gillaspie requested to have the council discuss the issue of Airsoft guns and the town's rules on firearms in a future study session. The session has not yet been scheduled.

Spending green to go green

The council unanimously approved a measure to spend up to $1.6 million in budget reserves to pay for energy efficient upgrades to town facilities.

The money would be used to pay part of the costs of photovoltaic solar panels to be purchased and installed on town buildings. The town also would have buildings retrofitted for energy-efficient components.

The town previously received a $164,000 grant to pay for energy-efficient HVAC systems. The town would also be eligible for a $57,000 payment from Tucson Electric Power once the upgrades are completed.

Oro Valley also would issue clean renewable energy bonds to help pay the remainder of the costs of retrofitting buildings, purchasing and installing the solar panels.

Town officials estimate the savings on energy costs would top $71,000 annually.

The total project cost is estimated at $4.2 million. The energy efficiency portion of the project is estimated to cost $1.8 million and the solar panel project is estimated to cost $2.3 million.

Town Finance Director Stacey Lemos called the plan "100 percent self-funding." She noted the power company APS performed an audit that guaranteed the estimated energy savings.

The council plans to hear a proposal from finance staffers on the issuance of bonds at the May 18 council meeting.

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