(MITCHELL) - The Mitchell Board of Zoning Appeals granted a variance to put a gun repair shop within a block of a school.
Steve Gilbert asked the boards permission to open a small gun repair business in his garage in the 400 block of North Ninth Street.
Because Gilbert has a full-time job the business would only be open by an appointment-only basis. He would not sell guns, but only repair them. But he needs a variance before he could apply for a federal firearms license.
However, Gilbert's home is a block from Mitchell Junior High School and faces Emerson gym, where junior high students conduct physical education classes throughout the day. Before and after school, it's congested with vehicle and pedestrian traffic and a gun shop near the area had board members concerned.
The Times Mail reports that neighboring property owners were approached about the variance, as was Mitchell Community Schools Superintendent Steve Phillips, who voiced strong objections to the proposal, according to Building Commissioner Danny Baker.
City Council member Vicky Schlegel, who lives across from the property, attended the meeting to ask questions and stated she was uneasy about the gun shop because it would be near the school. Two other neighbors told Baker they wouldn't have a problem with the shop nearby.
City attorney Byron Steele told the board he couldn't locate any state statutes regarding how far gun shops need to be away from schools even though laws dictate a distance alcohol and adult content sales must be from schools.
The variance was approved, but the board placed several stipulations that would assure safety, including allowing the business to only operate from 4:40 pm to 8 p.m.; posting a sign that reads, "By appointment only," with a phone number and shop hours; and requiring all guns to be locked up in a safe when Gilbert isn't working on them and keeping ammunition locked up in a second location.
In addition no guns will be sold and Gilbert must supply the with copies of all of his licenses and permits, and any change in construction or operating hours will require a new variance request. Also, if Gilbert stops operating the business then the variance ceases to exist. It is not transferable.
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