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New rules in talks for Joliet gun shops

Since the opening of a new gun shop in a residential area along Ruby Street earlier this year, the City of Joliet has received many complaints over zoning.

At the request of city staff, the Joliet Land Use and Legislative Committee took time to provide input on the matter at its June 6 meeting.

The gun shop, Casper Shooting, Inc., was allowed to set up shop in a residential area because the city did not have an ordinance prohibiting it.

Candace Johnson, co-president of the St. John’s Neighborhood Organization told The Times Weekly that residents did not have any advanced warning that a gun shop would open in the residential area.

“We were not happy,” she said.

Currently, the business is operating in a B-3 general business district at 366 Ruby St.

Community Development Director Kendall Jackson said the only requirement placed on the gun shop was to get a business license from the city in order to operate.

The ordinance, as drafted, applies a new set of rules on gun shops, should another come before the city. It stipulates that owners will need to have video surveillance, provide a safe to store firearms, use security measures to protect entrance points and windows, and not share the same structure or building with a business of another type, unless permitted by the building inspector.

Johnson wanted it to be clear that the gun shop owners are nice and that she does not have a problem with the business or its location.

She said her concerns for the business are mostly them being burglarized but also that guns are manufactured on site, and is hoping that regulations are put in place as a precaution moving forward.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman wants the proposed ordinance to specify that gun shops cannot be operated in residential neighborhoods.

Chairman Terry Morris agreed, saying they city needs to put a rule in place to regulate the placement of similar type businesses.

It was not clear during the meeting how far gun shops must fall from residential areas moving forward.

“We would have to look at a zoning map to see what would be an appropriate distance,” Corporation Counsel Marty Shanahan said.

The committee came to consensus that a moratorium on gun shops needs to be in effect for six months to allow city staff to investigate the matter further. Joliet City Council officials will vote on it at their June 19 meeting.

City staff intends to tweak the ordinance and find out how many existing businesses could be affected by regulations on gun shops.

The Joliet Land Use and Legislative Committee will review the proposed rules again at a later date.

An ordinance for this zoning issue will subsequently go before members of the Joliet Plan Commission for possible recommendation to the city council.

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