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Crowd shows up to Hammond board meeting

The Village of Hammond's regular board meeting Monday, May 9, drew quite a crowd as residents packed the board room and outside lobby area to listen to and discuss some of the evenings agenda items.

The village's 2010 audit report and sewer account status review weren't the only hot topics at the meeting.

Tony Endres' request to sell firearms on the Internet from his home in the Black Duck Point housing development and the village attorney contract sparked a lot of discussion between the board and those residents in attendance.

A number of Endres' neighbors voiced concerns of how having the sale of firearms in their neighborhood would impact the resale value of their homes, insurance rates, traffic in the neighborhood and safety issues with so many young families in the neighborhood.

Allegedly, 90 percent of the neighborhood signed a petition, not wanting the firearms business in their neighborhood.

Trustee Erin McComb made a motion to deny Endres' request to sell firearms from his home.

She said, "While I appreciate someone who has an entreprenual spirit and want to support local business, it comes down to two things for me: We have an ordinance that fully supports not having a business like this there (in a residential neighborhood) and we have concerned community, that's asking us in large numbers to not do that."

Trustee Wally Graf said he sided with Endres and didn't think the home business was a problem. He added that he also understood the concerns of McComb and Endres' neighbors.

Graf said it was a tough decision, but "We are elected to do as much as we can with what the residents think and with that petition, basically the whole development doesn't want to see that. It is residential, it isn't a business district."

One of Endres' neighbors spoke on behalf of the neighborhood and said that they were not against Endres or weapons, they just didn't feel comfortable having the firearms business in their residential neighborhood.

All board members present voted to deny Endres' request -- Trustees Chris Buckel and Steve Peterson were not present at the meeting.

Endres asked to see a copy of the petition, as it is public record. He said he wants to ensure all of the addresses on the petition are actually from his neighborhood.

The board approved the village attorney contract with Tim Scott, but only after a bit of discussion.

McComb said she had some concerns about approving Scott's contract. She said she was concerned about some of the things Scott has advised the board on, timeliness on return, limitations to Scott's services and she questioned whether it was a wise financial decision to have an attorney at every meeting.

Graf said changing attorney's would be difficult because a new attorney would not be familiar with what was happening in the village. He added that he would not feel comfortable without an attorney to refer to for legal matters at each meeting. Even if he doesn't always agree with Scott's opinion, Graf said he likes to have the legal advice available.

All board members present at the meeting, except McComb, voted in favor of approving the village attorney contract, for a monthly rate of $2,100. Trustees Chris Buckel and Steve Peterson were not present at the meeting.

In other news:

• The board approved a temporary picnic license for the Lions Club softball tournament, June 17-19.

• The board approved a street closure request for the Father's Day event in the village.

• The board approved the purchase of playground equipment for the village park.

• The board approved the park pavilion roof replacement.

• The next regular village board meeting is scheduled for June 13 at 7 p.m.

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.

(715) 426-1048