Colfax grants conditional use permit for gunsmith

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals has granted a conditional use permit to allow guns to be repaired at a Dunn Street residence.

George Richards, who currently holds a federal firearms license which allows him to repair guns at 604 Main Street in Colfax, requested the conditional use to also repair guns at the home he rents at 101 Dunn Street.

The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing on the request March 6, and after the public hearing was closed, approved the conditional use permit.

Richards told the Zoning Board of Appeals that he does not plan to put a sign out at the Dunn Street gunsmith location, and he does not plan to do any advertising for his gunsmith business.

Richards’ gun repair shop will be open by appointment only, and Richards said he does not plan to sell any guns.

“I just want to work on repairing them,” he said. 

No members of the public attended the public hearing to speak either for or against the request.

Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said every adjoining property owner had received notification of the request and of the public hearing.

The packet of information provided to the members of the Zoning Board of Appeals included an e-mail message from the owners of the property at 101 Dunn Street, Paula and Mark Dobbs, dated February 1 and indicating that if a conditional use permit were granted to Richards, they (as the property owners) were “in agreement.”

Richards told the Zoning Board of Appeals he had built the garage himself in which he plans to operate as a gunsmith.


The packet of information also included an application for an “Amended Federal Firearms License” for the location at 101 Dunn Street.

As a gunsmith, Richards noted that federal law requires him to keep detailed records of the guns coming in and going out of his shop and that he must record the date, the owner’s name, the serial number of the firearm, the manufacturer and the caliber.

When the gun is ready to leave his shop, Richards said the law requires him to check out the gun only to the owner.

If someone other than the owner were to come and pick up the gun, Richards said he would be required to run a background check on that person and could only release the firearm after the background check had been completed.

Gene Gibson, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, wondered how many hours per day Richards planned to operate as a gunsmith at the Dunn Street location.

Richards said he receives maybe one telephone call per day about repairing a firearm and that he expected the traffic generated at 101 Dunn Street for his gunsmith shop would be one or two vehicles per day.

Peggy Richards said if the conditional use permit were approved, they had plans to install a security system on the property that would include a camera.

Richards said he would not be testing the firearms at the Dunn Street location but, instead, would take them out to the Colfax Sportsmen’s Club shooting range to test them.

Zoning code

Zoning Board of Appeals member Jason Johnson pointed out the village’s zoning codes allowed “home occupations” as a conditional use in a residential district only in the “enclosed area of the dwelling unit or an attached garage” and that Richards’ proposal was for a detached garage.

The Zoning Board of Appeals can set it as a condition for the gunsmith shop to only operate in the detached garage at the 101 Dunn Street property, Niggemann said.

The conditional use permit would be issued for George Richards at 101 Dunn Street, and if Richards were to move, the conditional use would not continue to be in effect for that property, she  said.

The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a motion to grant a conditional use permit to George Richards to operate a gunsmith shop at 101 Dunn Street in the detached garage.

Mike Kiekhafer, who is the chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, was absent from the meeting.

Zoning Board of Appeals member Mark Mosey was nominated by the board to act as chair of the meeting.

In addition to Gibson, Johnson, Mosey and Kiekhafer, Rich Bautch also serves on the Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals.