By Katy Savage
A zoning permit request to sell firearms next to Rutland Northeast Primary School was rescinded on June 6 after backlash from residents.
A temporary permit was granted on May 24, which would have allowed applicant Eric Fletcher to sell firearms on Temple Street, about .1 mile or a 3-minute walk from Rutland Northeast.
Rutland Mayor David Allaire said the permit generated much discussion on Monday morning as a group of parents and community members took a photo of it and shared it on social media.
“I think it’s a totally inappropriate place to have any kind of a business repairing or selling guns,” Allaire said.
Allaire said applicant Eric Fletcher verbally communicated with the city the afternoon of June 6 that he would not move forward with the permit.
The application was received by the city on May 12. It requested to turn the outbuilding of a single-family residential home to a gunsmith and repair shop. A master bedroom would be used as storage 113 Temple Street.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster,” Fletcher said on Monday afternoon while confirming he had “no plans currently” to move forward with the gun shop.
“It’s been an interesting day,” he said. “I”m not in a place to discuss it right now.”
Permits are reviewed by the Design Review Board and zoning administrator. Temporary zoning permits can be appealed by a member of the public. The deadline to appeal would have been Wednesday, June 8.
Allaire said the permit was granted because there was nothing in state statute or local zoning that would prohibit it. “I think everything (the zoning administrator) did followed state statute and I don’t think there was anything that went wrong there,” he said.
State statute prohibits weapons on school busses, school property and in school buildings but doesn’t mention gun proximity to schools. There is a federal law that prohibits guns within a school safety zone, defined as 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school There are exceptions to the federal law if the gun is on private property and the gun owner is licensed to carry it.
Allaire said the Planning Commission was in the process of making changes to zoning regulations and expected there to be a discussion about guns in light of the permit and gun violence around the country.