Backlash Nixes Gunsmith Shop |
A gunsmith has withdrawn a zoning application to operate a shop on Temple Street due to public outcry over its location next to Northeast Primary School.
“I feel like I got kicked in the gut,” Eric Fletcher said on Monday. “When I started all of this, it was never my intention in any form to cause distress in the community. With the current climate of things, I understand the concern.
Fletcher received a home occupancy zoning permit dated May 24 for the assembly and “substantially” but not exclusively online sale of firearms at a Temple Street address abutting the driveway of the Northeast School.
A photo of the permit and a Google map showing the location in relation to the school were part of a widely shared social media post over the weekend, with many people in the comment sections discussing how to appeal the permit.
Zoning Administrator Andrew Strniste said as of late Monday morning he had received at least 25 calls about the appeals process, for which he said he was directing people to the relevant laws in the area. ‘State.
“As far as I’m concerned, I can’t really determine who can and can’t appeal,” he said. “It’s the Design Review Board that’s an interested party.”
The law states that neighboring owners are interested parties when they can demonstrate that they could be affected by the use of the property covered by the permit.
Deputy Superintendent Rob Bliss said Monday that schools in the city of Rutland are preparing an appeal as neighboring landowners.
“Our job is to bring to their attention some things that we might find in the general zoning bylaws that might need to be revised again,” he said. “This company will prevent the use of our school.”
Bliss said the permit likely did not take into account that the property is within the 1,000-foot gun safe zone maintained around the school. He said protocols require that they “run school security” if someone with a gun is spotted in that area. He said this triggers a number of other protocols, including a 911 call putting all responders in the city on high alert.
Bliss – who stressed he has nothing against stay-at-home businesses – said a customer leaving the store with a visible firearm could trigger these protocols regardless of their intentions.
Besides the gun-specific issues, Bliss said they have questions about what kind of shipping traffic the company would bring to a neighborhood that currently has none, but has other pre-existing traffic issues. .
“I don’t know if you’ve seen our pick up and drop off times, but it’s pretty busy there already,” he said.
Fletcher said the backlash was at least partly a misunderstanding of his plans, which did not include what is commonly seen as a “gun store”.
“My intention was never to have an inventory or anything in front of a school district,” he said. “That would have been completely irresponsible.”
Fletcher said he had recently obtained a trade school certification in gunsmithing and hoped to use the Temple Street space as a workshop for occasional repairs and inspections while he looked for a more suitable location for a display case. He said he also needed space to do business in order to get some federal certifications.
Fletcher called himself a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and said that with gun ownership comes responsibilities.
“Guns are a very, very touchy subject, especially with the current climate,” he said. “The very essence of what my business was going to be was going to be safety and education.”
Fletcher said the procedures he should have followed to receive and store the firearms he worked on could have addressed some of the community’s concerns. He said he could have tried to use the appeals process to address those concerns, but also learned on Monday that the company would have changed the property tax and insurance to double his rent.
Fletcher said he still wants to start his business, but will have to rethink his plans.
“The initial blowback – it’s nothing I wanted even in a million years,” he said. “I respect the contribution of the community. Without them, I have nothing. It’s too early to tell where I’m going from here.