, Derry, New Hampshire

October 18, 2012

Exceptions granted for gun business

Zoners give OK to two residential plans

By Julie Huss
Derry News

---- — DERRY — Residents are fired up after zoning officials granted special exceptions to a pair of gun-related businesses in town.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment voted, 3-2, to grant special exceptions for two home-based firearms businesses at its meeting Oct. 4, despite objections from a dozen abutters and neighbors opposing the plans.

Alan and Susan Fillingham were granted an exception to operate a shooting sports and firearms equipment business from their Hubbard Hill home.

The business would cater mostly to online customers, specializing in collectable and antique firearms.

Alan Fillingham said his business would not be a detriment to the neighborhood as it would deal with appointment-only customers and would be a safe operation.

Fillingham, an accomplished shooter, said his business would also handle ancillary supplies for competitive shooting.

No one spoke in favor of the Fillingham request, but a steady stream of residents opposing the plan came before the board.

Kathryn Egan lives on Hubbard Hill Road and said she did not want a gun business in her neighborhood.

“It’s a very special neighborhood; we love walking on our street,” she said. “It’s a safe place where kids walk back and forth. Having a firearms business is inappropriate for our neighborhood.”

Eagan joined others in saying the business would negatively affect property values.

Jim Hebert said he was worried about an upswing in burglaries because thieves might be attracted by the presence of firearms.

“It will bring attention to the street,” he said.

Neighbors said they didn’t want to squelch the Fillinghams’ plans, but said the business didn’t belong on Hubbard Hill.

Alan Fillingham said his business would be safe and no firing would be done on his property.

“Absolutely not, under no circumstances is that remotely possible,” he said.

ZBA member Al Dimmock voted against granting an exception and said neighbors’ objections should be heard.

“I feel the people have a very legitimate complaint when they say they don’t want it in their neighborhood,” he said.

Zoners also granted a special exception to Thomas Nelson to allow the sale and assembly of firearms and antiques at his Gervaise Drive home.

Neighbors also voiced concerns over safety issues and shrinking property values in the cul-de-sac neighborhood.

Gervaise Drive resident Thomas Migliatta said he would fight to keep Nelson’s business off his street.

“We will fight; we will win,” he said.

In both cases, abutters have 30 days to appeal the decisions.