Franklin County Area Plan Commission (APC) and board of zoning appeals (BZA) reviewed two applications for a conditional use to permit federally regulated firearm sales at their Sept. 8 meetings.

The APC began by reviewing the permit submitted by Quentin Kersey, who is working to obtain a federal firearms license (FFL) through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Kersey explained his son is returning from the military where he serves as a gunsmith. Kersey has identified a need in the area for a gunsmith and hopes to offer those services as well as private sales and transfers. He does not plan to post signage for his business and will operate on an appointment-only basis.

APC vice-president Robert Braun asked if he intends to stock inventory on site. Kersey replied he may have some inventory, but much less than a retail gun store would have. He explained any onsite storage must be secured and inspected by the ATF prior to issuance of the FFL. APC member Rob Seig asked if there would be testing of firearms on site. Kersey replied not much more than he currently shoots firearms in his personal life; customers would not be permitted to shoot firearms at his property. APC director Cindy Oschell informed Braun the proof of publication and neighbor notification paperwork required was in order.

APC member Ed Derickson made a motion to forward the application to the BZA with a favorable recommendation; Seig seconded the motion and the board voted to approve. The BZA met following the APC and voted to approve the application contingent that no customers are permitted to shoot firearms on site.

The APC then reviewed a similar application to sell firearms with a FFL by Shane Hammond and Martin Harmeyer. Hammond explained he intends to only offer private sales and transfers by appointment; most of the business will be conducted online or at gun shows. Hammond does not intend to operate a retail space, sell ammunition or permit customers shooting firearms.
Orschell informed Braun the notifications required for proof of publication and certified mail notification of adjoining property owners was not complete. The APC tabled the application until the remaining documents were submitted.

Also discussed:

-The APC reviewed a development plan submitted by Shanon Flannery to establish a vacation rental community on 15 acres. Flannery explained he intends to build five cabins, each containing three bedrooms and two baths on a 1,560 square foot floor plan available for short-term vacation rentals. If successful, Flannery is considering expanding the operation onto adjoining parcels he owns.

Braun questioned Flannery about the outdoor lighting planned for the site. Flannery presented some ideas but was willing to work with the suggestions of the board to minimize light pollution.

Seig asked how the development would fit in the county's code. Orschell agreed the project is difficult to fit into the code and was not sure if additional steps need to be taken for approval. APC member Connie Rosenberger asked if it would fall into the regulations for “boarding house, lodging house, tourist home, bed and breakfast.” Orschell replied she considered that as an option, but the separate residential structures would exclude it from such a classification.

Seig voiced some concern with the water and septic for the site. Flannery replied he is working with Brookville Lake Regional Waste District; the water has already been brought onto the site and septic planning is underway. Seig calculated the development impacts enough of the lot, just based on buildings and driveways, to require a permit through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The specifications of the driveway drew some discussion, with concerns about the ability of emergency vehicles to access the site. Flannery plans to expand the main drive to 12 feet in width with 10-foot wide driveways going to each cabin; the existing turnaround will also be improved as needed.
Seig brought the discussion back to the particulars of how the project fits into the zoning code. Orschell suggested seeking a rezone as a “unit development.” Seig asked if that's even an appropriate use for a property zoned half planned business and half recreational. Orschell agreed, the use does not really fit into a specified permitted use.

Seig noted the units are essentially houses; the code permits one house per parcel. BZA member Terry Duffy suggested the parcel could be split into five separate lots and five homes built on a private lane, which is allowed in the code. Seig agreed.

With further discussion, Flannery decided to go the route of a unit development. He will need to submit an application and return for next month's meeting. Seig suggested to include the second lot in the request for rezone if he is considering a future expansion. He made a motion to table the discussion until Flannery's return with an application for unit development.

-APC continued its discussion on changes to their fine schedule. APC attorney Tammy Davis reviewed the proposed changes, which allow the board the assess a fine of up to $500 with $50 added each 30 days. Braun thought the fine was too weak. Davis asked if Braun was amenable to a $500 increase each month; Braun agreed. Mannix liked the amount, but suggested billing violators weekly to keep it on their mind. Derickson pushed back on the weekly fine due to the high amount of legwork it would require. APC voted to move forward with the process to formalize the fine change, advertising requirement change and development plan approval. The changes will be advertised and discussed in an upcoming meeting.

-Seig offered an update to the APC on the Reid Health project on S.R. 101. He has been in contact with the project manager and they have addressed most of the issues discussed. Duffy asked what the other concerns remained. Seig replied they are working with the Indiana Department of Transportation for permits and are experiencing delays in the application process due to a high backlog. They also need to make changes to the sewer plans.

-The APC discussed a request by the Franklin County Commissioners about changes to the regulations on domesticated animals. Resident Tim Wildman had brought his concerns to commissioners about a neighbor with a large number of dogs in their home and was present at the meeting to share his story.

Seig suggested having such a large numbers of dogs inside should probably be regulated as a kennel. Duffy pointed out the code specifies a private kennel as nine or more dogs kept outside; he suggested simply removing “kept outside” from the text. Davis warned changes to the code are not typically retroactive; if a situation exists before it is regulated by changes to the code, it is allowed to continue as a nonconforming use. Changing the code may not impact the problem at hand.