Supervisors approve gun shop permit

By Heather Michon, correspondent

A public hearing on a special use permit for the construction of a new gun shop in Fork Union elicited vigorous questioning from Fluvanna County supervisors at their Wednesday (May 15) meeting.

The 10.5-acre parcel sits behind and to the side of the Fork Union Animal Clinic, near the intersection of James Madison Highway (Route 15) and East River Road (Route 6).

Michael Brookman told supervisors that he is a federally-licensed firearms dealer and has owned Albemarle County Firearms in Charlottesville for nine years.

He explained that gun shops, not surprisingly, are frequent targets for would-be robbers. “As a firearms seller, it’s your worst nightmare,” he said. He believes moving from a high-traffic location like Charlottesville to a more remote area and building his own shop will alleviate some risk.

Asked what security provisions he had planned, Brookman said the building would be constructed of steel-reinforced concrete with steel doors and lined with vertical posts called bollards, designed to prevent the building from being rammed by vehicles. Motion detectors and cameras would be mounted on both the interior and exterior.

The building will be mostly hidden from view of the main road by trees, and he will not have a gun range, minimizing the impact on his potential neighbors.

Candice Waycaster, manager of the Fork Union Animal Clinic, shared a list of the clinic’s concerns with supervisors.

Access to the shop would come by adding an extension to the clinic’s current driveway. Waycaster said her biggest worry was increased traffic along the shared stretch of driveway, which is often used by visitors as a dog-walking area.

“I don’t have any issue with the nature of the business,” Waycaster said.

She also raised questions about who owned the easement between the clinic and the proposed store. After looking at a drawing of the property, County Attorney Fred Payne said the clinic might have grounds to contest the construction of the driveway. However, the supervisors could only vote on the motion before them.

Supervisors passed the special use permit unanimously.


Some administrative housekeeping over the county’s contract with the Fluvanna SPCA (FSPCA) unexpectedly spun off into a short debate over funding levels.

The issue at hand was a revision to a section of the agreement over the baseline funding the county provides the FSPCA for acting as the public animal shelter.

County Administrator Steve Nichols explained that the previous baseline had been set at $6 per capita based on the 2010 census data for Fluvanna County, or about $150,000 a year.

In fiscal year 2019 (FY19), the county boosted funding to about $200,000, in part to raise staff salaries to a minimum of $10 per hour. This increased the baseline to $8 per capita. The motion before the board would codify the $8 per capita baseline.

Nichols added that the FSPCA is now designated as a department for budgetary purposes, and like any department could ask for funding above its baseline during annual budgeting discussions. In FY20, they were allocated around $300,000.

“I still don’t understand that,” said Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) of the additional $100,000. “I don’t see how you do that.”

Under state law, counties and municipalities have to provide public animal shelters. Nichols pointed out that contracting with the FSPCA and helping them increase staff salaries, services, and infrastructure was still far cheaper than building and running a separate county shelter – a project that could cost the county millions of dollars.

“We use that as an argument, that it’s going to be more expensive,” said Weaver.

He voted no on the motion, which passed 4-1.

Other business

Supervisors also approved an exemption from the $33 license fee for volunteer sheriff’s deputies.

On the recommendation of human resources manager Jessica Rice, they agreed to approve the county’s participation in a voluntary group long-term care insurance program offered through the state. This would give county employees an option to sign up for insurance coverage expenses for recovery at home or at a facility for a period of up to four years. The county will not have to pay to participate in the program.

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