2014-05-15 / Front Page

Planning Commission: No to residential ammo, firearm sales

By Rhonda S. Sanders
810-452-2665 • rsanders@mihomepaper.com

FLINT TWP.— A small but vocal group of Western Hills residents converged on the township Planning Commission meeting last week to shoot down a neighbor’s request to sell guns and ammunition from his home.

It was one of two special land use requests on the docket for home occupation on-line sales for firearms and ammunition.. Planning Commissioners, even those are admitted gun owners and Second Amendment supporters, unanimously denied both requests.

One from Eric Hall to operate a business on Sugarbush Lane brought the biggest protest during a public hearing.

Lynne Taft, an attorney who lives in Burton, spoke on behalf of her 91-yearold mother who has lived on Sugarbush for 50 years. Taft said she had learned the day before of the nature of Hall’s request, otherwise there would have an even bigger turnout of opposing residents. She called in an unwelcome intrusion into a quiet neighborhood of higher-value homes.

Hall, the petitioner was not present and had requested postponing his application to allow time to complete licensing from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Tracey Tucker, township building director, said Hall was told that the public hearing had already been published and would proceed and that the commis- sion might also choose to go ahead with its vote.

“This is not compatible with the neighborhood at all,’’ Taft argued, vowing to return, if necessary, with more people and better research.

“If he needs an ATF license before he can proceed then clearly he is going to be selling ammunition and firearms in a residential area and there is no excuse for people who have lived in this neighborhood for generations to have to take the chance that somebody mishandles that sort of equipment, or that the criminal element discovers there is a cache of weapons and takes it upon themselves to go in there.”

Other Sugarbush residents including Taft’s brother George and some from neighboring streets also spoke against the request.

George Taft cited availability of numerous vacancies in commercial areas for such sales.

Noting multiple applications on the docket for home sales, George Taft urged the board to “draw a line in the sand.”

“You need to put your foot down. It is going to ruin the fabric of the neighborhoods and people will flee.”

Gerald Hall, a 49-year resident of Sugarbush and former owner of Hall’s Roofing and Siding, said he never dreamed of asking for permission to operate his business out of his home.

Rebecca Wickham, an eight-year resident on Briarcliffe voiced concerns for her sons 8 and 10. Her yard backs up to Sugarbush and her children should not have to worry about someone breaking into a “safe and going on a shooting spree” in the neighborhood, she said.

Residents also voiced concerns about declining property values and increased traffic.

The crowd applauded the commission’s decision to deny the request before leaving.

A second similar request for a home on Maple Road got caught in the crossfire, so to speak.

Wickham, who had spoken against the Sugarbush request, was the only speaker during the public hearing.. She said the same arguments apply to Maple Road.

“Gun businesses and commercial business do not belong in residential areas,’ she said.

Commission Chairman Larry Ford noted that Sugarbush is zoned single family residential and the home on Maple Road is in an area zoned multifamily residential.

The commission was not swayed by his esponses and denied his request citing incompatibility with the neighborhood.

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