Wednesday, November 26, 2014

County OKs at-home gunsmithing

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 7/21/2014

County commissioners hesitated before pulling the trigger, but ultimately fired a shot to allow at-home gunsmithing in Franklin County.

A new amendment to the county’s zoning regulations allows residents who want to repair, modify or design firearms in residential homes to do so with specific permitting from the county. Commissioners passed an amended resolution to use gunsmithing as a home occupation on a 4-1 vote last week. County officials voiced concerns about the move before the vote, but only Roy Dunn voted against the measure.

County commissioners hesitated before pulling the trigger, but ultimately fired a shot to allow at-home gunsmithing in Franklin County.

A new amendment to the county’s zoning regulations allows residents who want to repair, modify or design firearms in residential homes to do so with specific permitting from the county. Commissioners passed an amended resolution to use gunsmithing as a home occupation on a 4-1 vote last week. County officials voiced concerns about the move before the vote, but only Roy Dunn voted against the measure.

“I have reservations too of the possibility of retail for firearms and guns,” Dunn said. “I think I’d be concerned if I was a neighbor having traffic going to his property to buy firearms.”

The county’s action came after it received a permit request from Tim Yoder to allow repair, modification, manufacturing, trading and selling of firearms and other gunsmithing activities in a single family residential home, according to county documents. But county zoning regulations did not allow gunsmithing as a home occupation. The board approved the amendment to the zoning regulations to allow gunsmithing, but commissioners immediately expressed concerns about the possibility of home firearms sales.

A permitted home operation would not be a proper firearm merchant, but more of a repair shop, Larry Walrod, planning and zoning director, said. The operation could be compared to an auto body shop that charges for automotive parts, but is different than selling vehicles like a car dealer, he said.

“If you take your vehicle to a repair shop, and you have issue with that, the shop will get parts and those parts are then sold to you, not by the car store, but the mechanic that is performing the work,” Walrod said. “In other words, if you needed a trigger assembly, he orders that, installs it, and in the event that you didn’t pay for that, he would have the ability ... to eventually sell it. That’s what the planning commission was looking at when it included the provision for selling within the framework of this particular specification.

“It’s not a true retail facility anymore than the auto repair shop. The auto repair is the primary business, but there is some retail,” Walrod continued. “When you get your oil changed, they not only sell you the oil they also sell you the filter and the other things that go with it. But is it a retail for auto parts? No, it’s not really a primary use of a retail.”

For a resident to sell firearms, he or she would need to secure a permit from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Steve Harris, commission chair, said.

Rick Howard, commissioner, said he was wary of approving the resolution, but because the resident would be prohibited from selling firearms without a permit, he felt fine amending the zoning regulations and awarding Yoder with the gunsmithing permit.

“I’m going to vote ‘yes’ because he’ll have to receive another permit to sell straight up,” Howard said.

The permit is a special use permit, which allows the county to revoke the permit if it is used incorrectly or it reaches another level of retail with which the board does not agree, Colton Waymire, board member, said.

“It is a special use permit, and its my understanding for it to become a full retail establishment it would have to go through another process,” Harris said in agreement with Waymire. “As it stands, I agree with it and I vote ‘yes.’”

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