Gjoa Street could be getting a new business as one resident there recently received a permit to sell firearms and accessories out of his home office. Abbey Collins reports:
Marcus Hom lives at 1309 Gjoa Street and at a recent meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission he received permission to also use his home for an internet-based gun sale business.
The commission granted Hom a conditional use permit in a 4-1 vote, with only David Kensinger voting against it in the end.
Hom’s next door neighbor Andi Payne spoke up at the meeting, expressing concerns about increased traffic and noise.
“I feel when I come home it should be a home, not a business. Kids play up and down on our street, we have a playground at the end of our street. I’m just not looking for more traffic for sales of, whatever,” said Payne. “I mean guns, what he’s selling. That’s my concern, because it’s right on my back deck.”
Hom said the business will be primarily based online, dismissing concerns about increased traffic.
“The amount of traffic that I’m going to have through there isn’t any higher than what would be normal in the neighborhood for regular social activities,” said Hom. “I don’t really specialize in in town sales; my big thing is internet sales. And then in town is just going to be things like primers or ammunition occasionally.”
Payne was not convinced and later reiterated her concern about increased noise from business-related traffic. She also worried about the sale of guns.
“It concerns me to have guns, that many. I don’t know what he’s going to keep in stock but we have theft and things going on throughout the town and guns are something people take seriously,” said Payne.
Commissioner Otis Marsh spoke up during the discussion, asking whether Hom plans to keep inventory on site.
“Are you going to be stocking firearms at your place?” asked Marsh.
“Yes, that’s correct,” said Hom. “And I already have my federal firearms license. So I have the appropriate federal permits to sell firearms legally as a business versus as a private individual.”
He said though onsite sales of ammunition will be a primary part of his business, he won’t be keeping large quantities of ammunition in stock.
“There’s probably folks here in town that are avid re-loaders that have more powder, ammunition, whatever then I do in my business,” said Hom.
In an email sent to the commission and read at the meeting, Julie Sheldon said she doesn’t think Hom’s business would be good for the neighborhood, adding the business will be close to a playground and ball park with many young children. Sheldon also expressed concerns about increased traffic and a recent attempt to break into a home on the street.
Rexanne Stafford also commented by email, saying she does not object to the business as long as it is discreet. Stafford asked the commission to apply certain conditions to the permit, including prohibiting both signs and advertising for the business around Hom’s home and on-street parking. She referred to conditions previously applied to a permit given to Greg Townsend last year. Townsend also lives on Gjoa.
Hom said parking will not be an issue as he has enough room in his driveway to eliminate the need for street parking. And, in response to a question from commission chairman Chris Fry, he said he thinks he will average less than one customer per day.
“I’d say a busy week would be maybe five people stopping in,” said Hom. “The business is not based on sales as a retail storefront to local people. There’s only 3,000 people in town so that’s not really a good business model. What I’m doing is trying to sell hiring packages over the internet to people.”
During discussion on whether to grant the permit, commissioner Richard Burke said he’s spoken with a neighbor of Hom’s who is in favor of his application. He voted for approval.
“I know Marcus has two young children and he’s very responsible so I’m not concerned with him locking up the weapons,” said Burke. “I’m fairly confident he will.”
Commissioner Harold Medalen also voted for granting the permit, though he questioned what the commission could do if traffic did become an issue. That was later resolved with a decision to review the permit after one year.
“I grew up in a house full of guns,” said Medalen. “Never got any holes shot in myself or anything and I hope I never do. I don’t think there’s anything objectionable about a gun related business like this.”
Otis Marsh voted against approval at first, before changing his vote to pass the measure. His concern was with the neighbors who are against the business.
“I guess the only reason I’m against this or sort of against it anyway is I’ve talked to two people that are against it that are neighbors,” said Marsh. “Other than that I’m for it.”
Chris Fry also voted to grant Hom the permit, while David Kensinger voted against it.
During discussion, Hom brought up that firearms are a divisive topic, but said the business shouldn’t be a concern for public safety.
“In my personal opinion firearms are very similar to a vehicle where if they’re used irresponsibly yes they can cause harm to an individual but it’s actually my discretion as a federal firearms licensee as who I sell to and who I don’t sell to,” said Hom. “Even if someone were to pass a background check I don’t have to sell them a firearm.”
In granting the permit, the commission added conditions limiting the hours of operation, prohibiting on-street parking, signs advertising the business and employees working on-site. The permit will expire if Hom sells or transfers his property and the permit will be reviewed again in one year.