YPSILANTI, Mich. – The City of Ypsilanti passed a zoning ordinance text amendment for Chapter 122 of the Ypsilanti Code of Ordinances at the city council meeting.
The ordinance regulates the areas of the city where stores can operate the retail sale and recreational use of firearms. This ordinance, which was brought to the floor and had its own public comment on prior to the vote, brought a few residents out to argue against it.
“I thank you very much for all of the hard work you have done but I feel that it is an egregious waste of staff and resources to spend any time on this,” Mark Hurgot, an Ypsilanti resident speaking in public comment, said. “We have I-94, M-17 and US-23. Anybody can go and get a gun. If you make it more restrictive, it doesn’t matter.
The ordinance amendment would restrict areas where these stores operate and ranges could be located. The regulation would put it more in line with other adult regulated uses rather than just retail regulations.
Some of the regulation changes include a few different options like the one below.
The following locational restrictions:
- 500’ away from public parks, daycare centers, grade schools, Eastern Michigan University and the Center District
- 500’ away from pawn stores or secondhand goods dealers
- 500’ away from a store less than 15,000 square feet with sales of alcohol or a bar/lounge
- 500’ away from a medical marijuana facility
This was one option laid out for the city council to approve in the agenda packet.
“The firing ranges, I can see the utility in [regulating] but this seems to be signaling the virtues of a particular national political platform to people that might be paying attention.” Hergot added.
Mark Taylor then spoke next. Taylor who plans on moving his professional investigative and security consulting business into the city. The new restrictions would relegate him to the outskirts of the city.
“I am planning on expanding into firearms and there are places in the downtown commercial district and currently looking at that would be a tax paying business,” Taylor said. “I could technically go to the township, I could go to Ann Arbor and compete with Ann Arbor Arms, but that is not my primary focus, I am in investigative security and consulting. I don’t plan to have rifles lining the walls and scaring passersby.”
With this decision, Ypsilanti moves forward with more regulation on firearms that some are calling for amidst the recent spike of deadly shootings and the fear that some have regarding firearms.
There was one question brought up, however, on whether or not the city had the power to restrict this.
“The city can’t have more restrictive covenants than the state except in very specific circumstances,” Taylor said, citing the state MCL code. “The language could be seen as restrictive because they are restrictive by nature.”
City Attorney John M. Barr then addressed this telling the council and those in attendance that the state does have pre-empted over firearms and the regulation on how they are sold and manufactured. Attorney Barr also noted that since this is a matter of zoning and the power to regulate where things are located is still at the local level.
The council voted 4-0-3 in favor of the amendment with council members Richardson, Symanns and Murdock absent. Mayor Beth Barshet was excited at the move in this direction.
“You have to do things a little bit at a time,” Mayor Barshet said. “There is a little bit of a virtue signaling but I actually think it is a reasonable virtue. A reasonable regulation of guns is a reasonable expectation to have. Zoning is one way we think the values of our city are.”
Taylor, who was available for comment, noted on how this would impact the city.
“The deal has happened, firearms are on the internet; I can spend 20 minutes online, pick out a firearm and get it shipped to licensed dealership,” Taylor said. “Now I would have to travel to a place like Ann Arbor Arms to get this and pay a fee because that is all federally regulated. As for my business, it won’t prohibit me as my business as planned, it just won’t be a primary source of income. I just have to decide if I go elsewhere or I go outside the city limits.”