Valley Outdoors began selling firearms at its location at 3034 Mount Vernon Road in Hurricane sometime during June of this year and is continuing to sell firearms.
Before January 12, 2021, the sale of firearms in any zoned unincorporated area in Putnam County was not allowed. The 3034 Mount Vernon Road is zoned C-1. After January 12, firearms sales in C-1 zoned areas was made possible contingent upon a business applying for and being granted a Special Permit.
Special Permits are granted after the Putnam County Commission determines that the issuance of a Special Permit is in the best interests of Putnam County. The County Commission does not act upon a Special Permit application unless it is first approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).
Valley Outdoors applied for a Special Permit. On May 27, 2021, the Putnam County Planning Commission notified the public through a legal advertisement that the BZA would consider Valley Outdoors’ request on July 1, 2021.
Valley Outdoors did not wait for Putnam County Commission approval. Valley Outdoors did not wait for the BZA to meet. It began selling firearms in June without the required Special Permit.
On July 1, the BZA rejected the Special Permit request. The Putnam County Commission has never considered a Special Permit to allow firearms sales by Valley Outdoors or by any other business.
Following the BZA ruling, Valley Outdoors appealed the BZA ruling in circuit court and was granted a stay which allowed it to continue firearms sales.
How does it happen that a business can continue to sell that which it never had a permit to sell? Maybe the circuit court judge who ordered the stay can explain it.
The sale of firearms in zoned unincorporated areas of Putnam County was made possible by a change in the county’s zoning laws. Here is how the law was changed.
On December 7, 2020, the Putnam County Planning Commission, of which the owner of Valley Outdoors is a member, submitted a legal advertisement to the Hurricane Breeze, which advertisement follows:
Notice of Special Meeting Public Hearing — The Putnam County Planning Commission will meet on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, 7:00 p.m. in Room 202, of the Putnam County Courthouse, 12093 Winfield Road, Winfield, WV in order to hold the following Special Meeting public hearing:
There is a proposal for Text Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance for the Zoned Unincorporated Areas of Putnam County, WV, in order to modify Article 600 “C-1,” Article 650 “C-2,” and Article 1700 “Supplementary.” These changes would modify Permitted Principal and Special Permit Uses in the “C-1” and “C-2” zones, including, but not limited to, Automobile Service Station, Automobile Washing or Detailing, Fast Food Restaurant, Personal Storage Facility, Restaurants which serve alcohol, Retail Business size limits, Golf Course, Hospital, Hotel with conference facilities, Retail Sales/Pawnshop/Firearms, Warehousing, and Large Truck and Trailer Sales, Lease, Rental or Service.
All interested parties are invited to attend and will be granted an opportunity to speak.
The notice was published December 10 and 17, 2020.
The January 5 Planning Commission meeting resulted in a presentation of the Text Amendment to the County Commission one week later. Members of the Planning Commission are Jason Asbury, Jim Dodrill, Marnie Edwards, Ron Foster, David Hobba, Bryan Hoylman, Vic Mays, David Meadows, Thor Meeks, David Mills, Jacob Pack, Steve Perry, and Glenn Yeager, II.
On January 12, 2021, the Text Amendments were submitted to the County Commission for approval. The Commission voted to make Retail Sales/Pawnshop/Firearms a special permitted use in C-1 zones and a permitted principal use in C-2 zones.
The ordinance does not allow the sale of firearms in a C-1 zoned area unless a special permit is obtained.
On May 20, 2021, the Putnam County Planning Office submitted a legal advertisement to the Hurricane Breeze, notifying the public that the Board of Zoning Appeals would meet at 7:00 p.m. on July 1, to consider a request from Valley Outdoors which advertisement included the following wording:
Valley Outdoors has submitted a Variance Request from the requirement of Article 1700.07 of the Zoning Ordinance for the Zoned Unincorporated Areas of Putnam County, WV. The applicant requests to have retail sale of firearms within 300 feet of a church, school, or residential building. The retail sale of firearms is proposed to take place at 3034 Mt. Vernon Road in Hurricane, WV (Tax Map 213, p/o Parcel 71). The property is zoned “C-1” Suburban Commercial.
Valley Outdoors has requested a Special Permit for a Change of Land Use to allow retail sales of firearms at 3034 Mt. Vernon Road in Hurricane, WV (Tax Map 213, p/o Parcel 71). The property is zoned “C-1” Suburban Commercial.
Valley Outdoors asked the BZA to do two things. The first was to allow that which current zoning law forbids — sale of firearms within 300 feet of a residence. The second was to allow that which the County Commission approved on January 12 to happen — request a special permit.
On July 28, 2021, the Planning Commission’s Ordinance Review Subcommittee met. The meeting agenda included the following action: Discussion and decision on clarifying Retail Sales/Pawnshop/Firearms – in particular Article 600, Article 650, and Article 1700.
As of Monday, August 9, minutes of the July 28 Subcommittee meeting were not available for public inspection. The Subcommittee’s last previous meeting was on May 12, 2021. Subcommittee members are Jason Asbury, Jim Dodrill, Bryan Hoylman, and David Mills.
Waiting on both the Judge and the Subcommittee minutes.