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Public hearing set on proposal to limit where firearms can be sold within Riverhead Town

The Riverhead Town Board has scheduled a public hearing on a proposal to keep “firearm business uses” out of the downtown area and to allow them only in certain zones and by special permit of the Town Board. 

The hearing will take place at the June 21 Town Board meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. 

The proposal defines a firearm business use as a firearm dealer, firing range or gunsmith. 

Town officials say that gun sales doesn’t fit in with their plans to revitalize downtown. 

The stated purpose of the proposal is: “To establish criteria for the establishment of firearm business uses in the town that address safety concerns in operations of such businesses, the potential disruption of peace and quiet enjoyment of the community.”

It seeks “to ensure that siting of such businesses is consistent with the vision of and goals for pragmatic economic development within the Town while promoting and/or maintaining walkable, family and tourist friendly spaces and atmospheres.”

A “firearm business use” in the proposal is defined as “a retail or wholesale operation involving the purchase or sale of firearms, ammunition and/or firearm accessories.”

Those uses would only be permitted by special permit in the business center and shopping center zones. Firearm business uses would be prohibited in all residential districts, and would be prohibited within 150 feet of a home, within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, child care facility, public park and other uses.

Firing ranges would only be allowed by special permit in the commercial residential campus zone, the planned industrial park zone, and industrial C and B zones. 

The timing of the proposal comes in light of several large-scale shootings nationwide.

It also comes as the town has received a proposal for an indoor shooting range and training facility on Elton Street in the former TrueTech building. 

The applicant for that project, Anthony Niosi, said he plans to sell guns at the Elton Street location. 

Several people had planned to speak in opposition to that plan at the June 2 Planning Board meeting, but the applicant withdrew the proposal and will instead seek to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for an interpretation as to whether it is permitted.  

Another company JJ Armory, headed by Joseph Oliver, says it is based in Riverhead on its website, but that it is an online company only. It says it will open its first retail location in 2022.

Mr. Oliver could not be reached for comment.