SYCAMORE – A permit allowing a Sycamore Township resident to run a business selling firearms out of his home was rejected Wednesday by DeKalb County Board members.
With a 17-6 vote, board members denied an ordinance granting Ronald Budoff a special use permit to operate the proposed business from his home on the 12800 block of Williams Circle. The permit is typically needed for a home-based business in the county that may generate excessive traffic or otherwise negatively affect the surrounding area.
Several board members voted against the permit because of opposition from Budoff’s neighbors. Budoff lives at his home with his parents. A public hearing for Budoff’s permit application was held Aug. 29 and four members of the public at the hearing spoke out against it, citing safety issues with firearms being delivered and picked up near their homes.
Board member Mark Pietrowski, a Cortland Democrat, said he agrees with residents of the area who have said it could negatively impact their homes should they want to sell it. They would have to notify buyers of Budoff’s business in the neighborhood.
“I would encourage the individual seeking this permit to look at the many empty commercial use spaces that are available in all our municipalities,” he said.
Other board members supported granting Budoff the permit based on the public hearing where it was determined he was following the right steps to ensure his business would be safely operated and he wouldn’t be selling assault weapons.
Board member Riley Oncken, a Sycamore Republican, said this decision should not be based on personal beliefs about guns or the perceived safety of Budoff’s business. He said rejecting the application for this permit could send the wrong message to other people who might want to apply for uses other than selling guns.
“To let your own personal feelings, your own personal prejudices about guns or fears about gun owners … I think is getting off track,” he said. “This is a law-abiding citizen who has a federally-regulated license that is extremely strict in terms of what he’s allowed to do.”
Board member Paul Stoddard, a DeKalb Democrat, said he wondered who would be responsible for investigating complaints about this business should they arise. Board member Marc Johnson, a Sycamore Democrat, said he was worried the county would be asking the same neighbors who did not desire the permit to be granted to monitor the business.
Paul Miller, the DeKalb County planning, zoning and building director, said the neighbors would report potential violations to his office and it would contact the owners of the permit to assess the claims. But evidence would be necessary to determine a code violation, he said.
Rita Yerkes, a resident of Williams Circle who was concerned about Budoff’s business, said she was thankful the County Board gave a thoughtful assessment of the situation and thankful they agreed to not grant the permit.
“We were very concerned about the safety of the children,” she said. “They play in the street all the time and we have no lights and no sidewalks. We really do appreciate their discussion.”