Two planners object to its proximity to school

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

The former Pharmacy Station building on South Pine Street in Burlington will serve a new purpose as a gun store under a conditional use permit and site plan application approved Tuesday by the Plan Commission on a divided vote.

City planning consultant Scott Ruhland, of the Lakota Group, told the Plan Commission that applicant Roy Christensen does not propose any exterior improvements to the structure with exception to installing a new sign showcasing “America’s Gunsmith Shop, LLC.”

Christensen, according to Ruhland, will submit a sign proposal for city staff approval at a later date for the property at 300 S. Pine Street.

“Overall, the site and building appear to be in good condition,” Ruhland said.

Christensen, as of Tuesday, plans to have five employees and staff the gun store with from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

According to Christensen’s business plan, he carries decades of experience in the retail firearms and firearms service industry, working at Gander Mountain in Wilmot and Kenosha from 1986 until 2017 and Camping World from 2017-2021.

Additionally, he purchased the firearms portion of Camping World, leasing space inside the City of Kenosha building on Interstate 94 and Highway 50 for gunsmith services.

He plans to conduct firearms sales under federal, state and local laws, according to his business plan.

While Christensen touted his sales experience, noting decades in the industry, some plan commissioners had hesitation about approving the conditional use permit and site plan application because it sits near Karcher Middle School.

Aldermanic representative Bob Grandi, one of two dissenters, said the location isn’t only near Karcher Middle School, but also close to a day care center.

“For me, I can’t go along with this,” said Grandi, adding it is about protecting schools and students.

Plan Commissioner Art Gardner, the other opponent of the plan, said he had no qualms about Christensen’s ability to operate a safe retail gun shop.

However, Gardner, like Grandi, believes Christensen should find a more suitable location such as the main corridor on Milwaukee Avenue, where many retail outlets operate.

      To read the entire story see the Jan. 13 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.