Ken Price hopes to have his new camouflage gear, ammunition and gun store
open in The Factory by March 1.
Thursday night the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals granted two use
variances allowing an apparel store and firearms sales at 1050 Broadway in
an Industrial-1 zone.
The BZA also approved variances to allow demolition of the former Wilbar
Manufacturing site on Park Avenue so it can be replaced with two duplexes,
and to permit Shinn Building and Developing Corp. to build a single-family
home at Westchester Avenue and Creita Street.
Permission for Price’s business legally was granted to B&B Developers Inc.,
owner of The Factory.
Town police chief Dave Cincoski said Price will have more security than two
Chesterton stores that previously offered firearms and because Price’s store
will be less than three blocks from the police station, response time would
be fast in the event of a problem.
Price, a former Marine, will hire police and military personnel with
firearms experience. He will have a Firearms Training Simulator or FATS with
300 different scenarios ranging from officer down, use of deadly force,
personal security and firearm assembly/disassembly, the latter a common
cause of injuries, said Price.
The simulator can upload photos of existing homes or businesses to prepare
for individualized scenarios “instead of hoping or thinking what you can
do,” he said. “I’m bringing this for regular civilians to make them safer.”
Testing on FATS can cover National Rifle Association certification, said
Price, and the laser simulator uses firearms tethered to a C02 bottle so an
actual recoil can be felt. FATS uses a screen and a typical entertainment
sound system, which Price said should not be too loud but he could
soundproof the ceiling for other building tenants if necessary.
He noted issuance of his federal permit to sell firearms was awaiting a
decision by the BZA after Cincoski signed off on the application.
Price’s attorney, Greg Babcock, said there has been no resistance from The
Factory tenants, and the community previously supported a live shooting
range and gun sales at now-closed Rangemaster Outfitters.
Camouflage-clad supporters of Price’s request were in the audience. William
Hill II and Ricco Semento spoke in favor during a public hearing; no one
spoke in opposition. J. Gusic submitted a letter of support.
Hill praised FATS classes saying firearms safety is important because
“nobody wants anybody in Chesterton dying from a negligent discharge.” He
noted customers coming to Price’s business are likely to stop at local
restaurants and pubs while here.
Semento of Kouts said Price’s store will be a good thing for Chesterton and
for area hunting/firearms enthusiasts in general.
BZA member Jim Kowalski said if Cincoski has no problem with selling
firearms, neither does he. Member Sig Niepokoj asked if Price can require
someone to take a FATS class; he replied no. Member Fred Owens said
Rangemaster was a good option to have in town. Vote with president Rodney
Corder in favor was 4-0; member Thomas Browne was absent.
Babcock advised that a former BZA approved “retail uses” in The Factory in
1994, but the types of uses weren’t spelled out so he wanted to err on the
side of caution with the new petitions, especially for the firearms.
Wilbar removal, Shinn OK’d
Also during the nearly three-hour meeting, members unanimously granted
property owners Larry Hitz and Heather Harrigan four variances needed to
have a demolition contractor remove the vacant 1910 Wilbar building just
west of Calumet Road so two townhome duplexes with detached two-car garages
can be built on the site.
The parcel is zoned Residential-2 that allows duplexes.
Under comment during a public hearing, Calumet Road neighbor Jack Humphrey
asked if his access to an alley behind his home would be impeded; Babcock,
who also represented Hitz/Harrigan, said no.
John Robbins of Second Street submitted a letter saying it would not be
advisable to upset the density of the area with four families and
potentially eight or more cars using the alley. Babcock said the Wilbar site
has access to two alleys, and the duplexes will have parking in front of the
townhomes and in the garages.
Humphrey and Niepokoj asked about an environmental study done on the former
manufacturing site; Humphrey wanted access to a copy.
Babcock said the town has to give adjacent property owners 10-days notice of
a planned demolition and the town will receive a copy of the environmental
study, but he assured there is no cause for concern. Babcock also noted that
removing the building will eliminate run-off problems for an adjacent
property owner, and new sidewalks will be installed.
Niepokoj said the variance requests presented a good opportunity to remove a
town eyesore, and Corder said approving the petition will demolish “an
unused building basically sitting there waiting to fall.”
Shinn was granted two variances tied to construction of a new single-family
dwelling in his infill subdivision near older homes. The first variance was
to reduce the 15-foot, side-street setback to 8 feet, but Owens voted no in
opposition to a second eliminating a sidewalk along the Creita Street side
of the Westchester Avenue corner lot.
No one commented during a public hearing. Kowalski said the lot was platted
in 1908 and having a two-block Creita sidewalk serves no purpose; Niepokoj
agreed. Owens said it would benefit young families. Corder said not having
the sidewalk makes it inconvenient, but if he had voted no the petition
would have been carried over until the Jan. 23 meeting.
A public hearing for Karrie and Ryan Thoma wasn’t opened Thursday and their
petition was carried over to next month by unanimous vote; they seek a
variance to install a 6-foot privacy fence on the side of their 2941 Nautica
Dr. home that faces County Road 1000N in Abercrombie Woods.
BZA attorney Julie Paulson said notification to all property owners within
300 feet of the lot perimeter didn’t occur. The couple expressed frustration
that their questions about the petition went unanswered by the Building
Department, and that an original document they submitted for verification
with the petition has not been returned.
Said Kowalski, “Someway, somehow we’ll get this resolved.”