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Residents fire back against gun shop in neighborhood

When Tony Endres attended the Monday night Village of Hammond board meeting, he was not prepared for the backlash his request would cause.

Endres was seeking a conditional use permit to start a business selling firearms from his home.

In a phone interview Tuesday morning Endres said, "I wasn't expecting that kind of (negative) response."

A number of Endres' neighbors in the Black Duck Point housing development attended the meeting to voice their concerns about safety and traffic hazards gun sales could bring to their neighborhood.

Many of Endres' neighbors brought their young children to the meeting, and said they worried transportation of guns in and out of the neighborhood would be unsafe for their children.

One neighbor said she "didn't have a problem with Tony selling guns, just not in her backyard."

While Endres understood his neighbors' concerns, he said he felt like the entire situation was blown out of proportion.

Endres assured residents he would have all the proper permits and background checks, and would take all necessary precautions to maintain the safety of the neighborhood.

"They made it into an issue about firearms and not about running a home business," Endres said.

Neighbors suggested Endres find an inexpensive location on Main Street for his firearms business, but Endres said his intent in starting the business was to supplement his current income and that he could not afford the additional cost of rent and utilities.

Those in opposition to the firearms business reiterated the idea that residential areas should be kept residential and commercial areas should be used for commercial businesses.

Endres said those in opposition "reached for anything and everything to make (the business) look worse than it was."

"It shouldn't matter what the business is," Endres said.

Endres said if he wanted to start a quilting or knitting supply business, "nobody would have shown up in opposition to that."

While the board said they would like to support area entrepreneurs, they seemed to have a difficult time getting over the safety concerns a firearms business could bring to the neighborhood.

Endres' permit request died due to lack of motion from board members.

In other news:

• The board approved the Zoning Ordinance amendment, adding public/parochial schools and licensed day care facilities as a conditional use in R-3.

• The board set the public hearing date for new state mandate on subdivision codes for Jan. 10 at 7:05 p.m.

• The board approved switching the police department cell phone service from Nextel to Verizon. The carrier change will save the village money each month.

• A representative from Veolia Waste introduced new recycling bins that will be distributed, free of charge, to current Veolia customers in the coming weeks.

• The board approved the purchase of two new speed signs, if money allows, at the end of the year.

• The board discussed possibly using "Hammond Bucks" as the employee holiday gift.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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