MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Morgantown Planning Commission recently filed a request from a local group to change where guns and ammunition can be sold within the city limits.
Protect Morgantown opposes the opening of the Big Daddy Gun store on University Avenue at “The Deck” and has requested changes to the city’s zoning code for gun stores. The group wants the commission to add a definition for an establishment selling firearms. This definition would be an “establishment engaged in the sale, manufacture for sale or repair of firearms, ammunition and ammunition components, as well as hunting and shooting equipment”.
The proposal would allow businesses in shopping malls, but would require permission to locate in neighborhoods or service/business districts.
In response, Morgantown Development Services Manager Rickie Yeager offered two options rather than a recommendation.
The first option adds the word “rental”, the option for customers to rent and sell firearms. The first option also removes the words “hunting or shooting equipment”. It also removes the option of conditional use in neighborhoods, but allows businesses in malls and business districts by conditional use.
The second option includes all of the first option, but adds a straight line of 500 feet “incompatible use separation” from schools, medical centers, parks, libraries, churches, day care centers, educational institutions and synagogues.
Morgantown deputy mayor and planning commission member Danielle Trumble said commission members want to tailor the zoning code to the city’s current and future needs.
“The staff gave us a lot of insight into what other towns like Charleston or Huntington are doing, but we want to make sure we’re doing something that makes sense for Morgantown, not just following the lead of others. municipalities.”
According to Trumble, the commission plans to dig deeper into the number of gun shops operating in the city and for how long. Understanding this information will help them understand how the neighborhoods where the stores existed together.
“Look at what areas the gun establishments are already operating in,” Trumble said. “How many, which ones are close to the schools or which ones would be affected by the changes we make.”
While the group proposing the changes used the location on University Avenue and some statistics from recent mass shootings, the argument against was heavily weighted on marketing tactics, images, and media appearances by Big Daddy’s owners. Guns.
The commission wants to ensure that the changes are fair, reasonable, well thought out and durable enough to serve the community in the long term.
“I’m sure every member of the planning commission and every member of council has their own personal feelings about this facility,” Trumble said. “But at the end of the day, if it’s a business operating legally, there’s nothing we can do about it. We can only change things in the future.
There is no timeline for reviewing existing zoning code information and retail locations, but Trumble said there will be opportunities for public comment.
“At that point, maybe we can start talking about what changes would make sense or what kind of regulations would make sense,” Trumble said.
Others who make up the nine-member board also want more time, information and public comment before voting on any proposed changes.
“I want to stop and think proactively about where we want our businesses to be located and what we want our city to look like in the future,” Trumble said. “And really look to the future and not to what is happening now.”
Florida-based Big Daddy Guns still plans to open the 15,000 square foot retail store in the coming weeks.