County to consider gunsmith permit

FRONT ROYAL – A U.S. military veteran wants to open a gunsmith business in Warren County near Fort Valley.

Trent Lewis applied for a conditional-use permit to operate a gunsmith shop out of his home at 71 Mountain Pond Road in the Fork Magisterial District near Fort Valley. The property is zoned for agricultural use.

The Planning Commission heard from the applicant on Wednesday as members considered setting a public hearing for the request.

Lewis’ gunsmith and gun-repair business would provide services that include refinishing, customized firearm modifications and cleaning, according to information provided by the Planning Department. Lewis intends to work from his basement at first, but he and his wife Amy plan to build a detached workshop within a year or two. The applicant has requested that the business would operate by appointment only, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The applicant also plans to invest in a home security system with video to monitor entry points.

“I have a pretty lengthy background in firearms from a safety aspect, from taking hunter safety courses as a child,” Lewis said. “I’ve grown up around firearms as well as I served 9 1/2 years in the Marine Corps.”

Lewis added that his background also includes business security systems.

Lewis told the commission that he would make a more sufficient backdrop for the target range, adding that it lies near the property line that abuts a vacant lot. Lewis said he doesn’t intend to buy and sell firearms from his business. Rather, he wants to buy parts necessary to repair or modify firearms. A customer could buy a firearm and send it to his business for repairs or other modifications, he said.

Lewis advised in a letter to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors that he intends to submit a request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for a federal firearms license to allow the transfer of any firearms built by his business, TL Customs LLC.

All customer firearms will be stored in a gun safe and logged in accordance to ATF regulations, Lewis says in the letter. Dogs on the property serve as a deterrent to trespassers, but he would install a security system if the permit is approved.

The Lewis property is surrounded by woods, pastures and two homes, with the nearest residence about 100 yards away. The county zoning ordinance allows gun-repair shops in a home on agricultural property with a conditional-use permit.

The Planning Department recommended conditions with the permit include a limitation on the test firing of firearms between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays and that the target range be in a location approved by the Sheriff’s Office and made with enough earthen material to prevent ricochets. The range shall not be for public access. The gunsmith shop shall be secured in a manner acceptable by the Sheriff’s Office with an installed security system.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the permit application next month.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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