Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals to consider appeal of Free Union firearm storage

The Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals will gather in Lane Auditorium at 2 p.m. for an item with two public hearings. First, what is this body?

“The Board of Zoning Appeals hears and decides appeals of any decisions of the zoning administrator or their representative, grants certain variances and special use permits, and interprets the zoning district map in cases of district boundary uncertainties,” reads the county’s website

The first is an appeal of a decision to grant a zoning clearance for a home business related to firearms at 2822 Free Union Road. In the application for a home occupation, Legal Gun LLC described the business as “firearms -related services and legal services, including secure storage for long-term travelers ( e.g., military personnel,) legal services for estates with firearms, hand- crafted manufacturing of firearms, and transfers.” 

Neighbors argued this business was not suitable for their community and made nine arguments. 

“We believe that permitting a firearms-related business in the midst of a family-oriented County neighborhood is antithetical to the interests of an area dedicated to small homes and small farms,” reads the first argument. 

In the staff report, Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda responded that none applied to the granting of a home occupation, which must be granted if an applicant meets all of the legal requirements. 

“The Zoning Ordinance’s general purposes of protecting the public health, safety, and welfare, or preventing nuisances, do not provide a basis to deny an application that meets the Ordinance’s specific criteria,” reads the report. 

In a March 23 letter, the business owner called the appeal “unexpected and bizarre.” 

“We don’t live in a ‘neighborhood,’” wrote Timothy Wehner. “There are no sidewalks, no schools, parks, or other public facilities within walking or cycling distance.” 

The second public hearing is for an appeal of denial of a homestay business in a cabin on Dick Woods Road. The cabin is in Albemarle County but the owner’s primary residence is in Nelson County. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the June 5, 2023 Week Ahead. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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