The City of Clintonville Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit Wednesday, Jan. 5, for a home occupation for Kelvin Brotzman, 60 Brix Street, to be a firearms dealer.
He will be allowed to ship and transfer firearms to his residential property, pending his fulfillment of other requirements and a list of conditions stated by the commission.
According to City Administrator Lisa Kuss, the city’s legal counsel has determined that Brotzman needs a conditional use permit in order to have a business as a firearms dealer in the city.
“Mr. Brotzman has applied for the conditional use permit. He talked with Police Chief Terry Lorge and a preliminary background check came back OK,” Kuss stated. “Mr. Brotzman explained to us that he has no intention of having a large volume of firearms on hand, and this will not be a walk-in business. Chief Lorge said he is OK with it, and Mr. Brotzman will sign a release allowing us to do a formal criminal background check as well.”
Brotzman explained to the commission and those in attendance at the meeting that his business will be done mainly through word-of-mouth and the internet. “I will be able to order a gun for someone online and purchase it and have it shipped to my house as a dealer,” he explained. “I would then go through background checks on the person buying the firearm and then do the weapons transfer to the customer from my house. Before this can happen, I would also need to go through Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) background checks as well. Obtaining a conditional use permit from the city is just one of many steps I need to accomplish before I am officially licensed and able to sell firearms. I need documentation from the city as part of the process to become a licensed firearms dealer, just like retail stores like Fleet Farm have a license to sell firearms. There are lots of steps left that I need to complete before I am granted a license.
“All of the firearms at my house would be locked in a safe that is bolted to the floor in my basement,” said Brotzman, who has owned his home at 60 Brix Street since 2002 but is trying to sell it so that he can move somewhere out in the country. “I won’t have any guns in my house except for my own personal firearms or ones that people have ordered. I will be able to sell AR-framed guns, but nothing silenced or fully automatic-just pistols, rifles and shotguns.”
Brotzman also said that he is starting the business to earn extra income on the side, as he is already employed full-time as an electrician.
St. Martin Lutheran School Principal Jerry Jiter was at the meeting to express his concerns over the business being located within a block or two of various schools, including St. Martin. “I’m not opposed to this business,” Jiter explained. “But it is a red flag for me because of the location. There are children, schools, and a library in very close proximity to Mr. Brotzman’s home. My primary concern is someone walking out of your house with a gun.
“Those concerns are lessened after talking to you,” Jiter said to Brotzman. “But my concern is still the location. It’s not enough that I would ask the Commission to say no to your request for a conditional use permit, but there are lots of kids in the area. The location seems like it’s not a good spot.”
Brotzman responded by stating that he would not be selling ammunition, and also said all guns will be cased or boxed when they leave his residence, along with a trigger lock on each firearm.
Tricia Rose, one of Brotzman’s fellow Brix Street residents, expressed her concerns over the idea of having a gun dealer in a residential area of town that is near the schools and library.
“I have huge issues with this item,” Rose began. “I don’t have a problem with Kelvin, but the location is what I question. My kids go to school near there. The alternative school is also in that area, and as recently as two months ago, the city had to approve a new ordinance to deal with these kids wandering the streets during the day. What are we doing allowing guns to be delivered and picked up in a residential area? Delivery companies like UPS and FedEx could make a mistake. Also, people don’t need a background check to purchase ammunition.
“I haven’t found anyone in my neighborhood who is in favor of this,” Rose continued. “I’m just not for it.”
Brotzman replied that his wife is a stay-at-home mom who is home during the day to sign for deliveries. He also explained that he and his wife would be the only two that can sign for the weapons when they are delivered, and also noted that shipping companies are not allowed by law to leave a firearm on the doorstep-they must be signed for in order to be delivered. Brotzman also stated that he expects to sell about four guns per month, maximum-and he will be required to keep a log of all gun sales that he conducts.
James Lee, Brotzman’s neighbor at 62 Brix Street, said he had concerns as well-until he spoke with Brotzman about his plans for the business.
“He’s not planning to have a retail business with an inventory of guns on hand,” Lee said. “I also know that he has to go through extensive checks and inspections with the ATF. He has also said he will have the guns locked up at all times.
“I have four children of my own, and two go to St. Martin,” Lee stated. “If Mr. Brotzman was planning to have a high-volume business with a wall full of weapons, I’d be opposed to it; but in this case, I support it. I know Kelvin and his family very well, and I absolutely support this endeavor.”
Plan Commission members discussed the matter, and Chairman Phil Rath commented on the issue of safety. “No weapon by itself has ever killed anyone,” Rath said. “All the background checks in the world can’t stop a tragedy from happening. Individuals cause harm-not the weapons.”
Commission members Art Joerres and Amy Goerlinger also commented on the issue.
“I have guns at my house-I’ve been a hunter all my life. I live less than a block from one of the schools in town,” Joerres said. “We could debate this issue for a long time and maybe not change many minds either way.”
“The amount of work Mr. Brotzman has to go through in order to become a licensed firearms dealer speaks volumes,” Goerlinger said. “He’s trying to set up a real business, not just shuffle guns in and out of his house.”
Joerres made the motion to grant Brotzman a conditional use permit for his home occupation to be a firearms dealer and to ship and transfer firearms to his residential property, under the following conditions:
? No signage advertising the business can be displayed in his yard;
? A criminal background check must be completed; and
? Brotzman must provide a summary of weapons sold to the City Clerk and Police Department once a year.
The permit request was approved by a 5-0 vote, with Commission members Rath, Joerres, Goerlinger, Nancy Koeppen and Gloria Dunlavy voting yes. Commission member Mark Doornink was excused from the meeting, while Commission member Don Krueger was absent.