Gunsmithing permit approved

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors voted to approve two conditional use permits Thursday, one for a mail-order gun transfer and gunsmithing business in Lunenburg and one for an adult living facility in Kenbridge.

Two members of the public spoke in support of the mail-order business.

Patrick Williams, of Lunenburg, said he had worked as a weapons expert and ordnanceman for the Navy for 28 years. He and his wife also raise poultry, Williams said, noting they use firearms to protect the poultry from predators, such as coyotes and bears.

“We use firearms back there just as you would use a hammer, a saw or a screwdriver,” Williams said. “They are a tool … As with any tool, you want to make sure it operates correctly, you want to make sure it operates safely.”

“A good gunsmith is a valuable commodity to have,” Williams said. “I heartily endorse having as many gunsmiths as we can in Lunenburg County, because they provide a valuable service, and they ensure the safety of the public.”

Tom Essex, of Victoria, also spoke in favor of the business.

Brown’s Store District Supervisor Mike Hankins asked about where the guns would be taken to be fixed or test fired.

Applicant Ralph Forehand, who attended the hearing, said they would be fixed and test fired at a 15-by-15-foot tank on his property at 4302 Reedy Creek Road.

Hound’s Creek District Supervisor Alvester Edmonds asked how the business would ensure the weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

Forehand said each applicant would have to pass a criminal background check and that he would soon receive certification from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

When asked by Love’s Mill District Supervisor Edward Pennington where the guns would be stored, Forehand said he owns a 20-by-20-foot metal building that is under 24-hour surveillance, and he would keep between one to two firearms on his property at any given time.

Concerning the adult living facility, Meherrin River District Supervisor Robert Zava asked Applicant Timothy Dow, who attended the hearing, about the maximum number of adults who would be at the facility and how to guarantee the safety of the adults.

Dow said a maximum of 10 adults will be at the location at 143 Unity Road. He also said each door and window will have fobs, so only employees can enter. He also said before applicants are accepted into the facility, they have to undergo a Uniform Assessment Instrument application that looks at the physical and mental health of the individual to best determine their needs.

“Are you not housing any type of Alzheimer’s type of people?” Zava said.

Dow said the facility is currently solely working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to house residents.

“We’ll ensure that all medications are given at the prescribed times,” Dow said. “We’ll make sure that they get back and forth from their doctors’ appointments. If they have something like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with those diagnoses, they require psychiatric treatment, so we would make sure they get to their appointments, as they would anywhere else.”

He said the facility would be for individuals who can dress and bathe independently but would need help with shelter and getting to appointments.

Dow said the facility is one story with a basement.

“It’s a very nice facility,” County Administrator Tracy Gee said.

Zava asked why the facility had changed from an adult facility after formerly being a youth facility.

Dow said the facility could only accept youth who met certain requirements and that the facility could effectively serve.

“It became increasingly difficult to find children that meet the criteria to remain with the policy,” Dow said. “So we didn’t take any versus taking something that was going to create problems in the community.”

Following the public hearings, board members voted unanimously in favor of both permits.