Sale of firearms within 300 feet of a school, church, or residence is now legally allowed in the zoned unincorporated areas of Putnam County.
The law was changed by the Putnam County Commission in a 2 to 1 vote on Thursday, September 30. Putnam’s zoning ordinances continue to restrict the operation of a pawnshop within 300 feet of a school, church or residence.
The 2 to 1 vote came after the county commissioners heard from those opposed to and those in favor of removing firearms sales restrictions from the zoning ordinances.
Opponents of the change argued that the reason that the change was being made was to benefit one person — Glenn Yeager, II. Yeager, a member of the Putnam County Planning Commission, began selling firearms at Valley Outdoors at 3034 Mt. Vernon Road in Hurricane, a location situate to 15 residents and a daycare center.
David Crouch of Litchfield Estates stated, “Now, we’re trying to go back and change all the ordinances to cover himself (Yeager). Crouch pointed out that the request to change the ordinance was initiated after Yeager’s request for a special permit to sell firearms at Valley Outdoors was denied by the Board of Zoning Appeals on July 1st.
“There has been a lot of shadiness here, up to this point and here we are trying to clean it up,” Crouch added. Crouch said that firearms restriction needed to remain in the ordinance to protect residents and the daycare center across the street from Valley Outdoors.
Robert Miller, a resident of Lexington Estates off Route U.S. 60 in Hurricane, spoke in favor of the amendment. Reading from his cell phone, Miller stated, “I’m in favor of the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance (by the Planning Commission) that were made on the 21st of September that pertain to the retail sales of firearms.”
John Williams, a resident of Marina Park, stated that the ordinance should not be acted upon until Judge Stowers rules on the request by Yeager to continue to sell firearms [the request cited by David Crouch].
Glenn Yeager spoke on behalf of himself. He stated that residents have not spoken out against the gun store because they are glad that we are there. Yeager added that he did not see where firearms sales were any different from any other retail sales.
Before approving changes to zoning ordinances, the county commission must determine if the change promotes the health, safety, and general welfare of the areas involved.
In addressing this criterion, Commissioner Andy Skidmore stated that he favored the change because his past opposition to firearms sales in C-1 zoned areas was the connection of firearms sales to pawnshops. Skidmore believes that pawnshops should be restricted.
Commissioner Brian Ellis, in addressing the health, safety, and general welfare criterion, asked if Yeager’s case was before Judge Stowers. After being advised that it was, Ellis announced his no vote.
Commission President Ron Foster, in addressing the criterion, said that he would make the deciding vote. Foster stated that he did not believe that firearms restrictions in Putnam County should be greater than those of the state and federal governments.
“It happens that we have one business that is going to be affected immediately but we will have many affected later,” Foster said. “I think that it is going to be a positive thing for the county if our ordinances are clear and all that somebody needs to worry about is following federal and state law.”
With Foster’s vote, unrestricted gun sales in the zoned unincorporated area of Putnam County was determined to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the zoned areas.
After determining by a 2 to 1 vote that the ordinance change satisfied other criteria, unrestricted firearms within 300 feet of schools, churches, and residences became the law of the land.