Tyrone responds to residents’ suit over gun shop

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A recent suit brought by eight Southampton subdivision residents and one business owner in the adjacent Southampton Village shopping center has received a response from Tyrone over a rezoning that allowed a proposed gun shop and indoor shooting range to locate in the retail center.

In the response town attorney Dennis Davenport included three defense statements. The first noted that the residents in their filing failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

The second defense stated that, “To the extent plaintiff is seeking any damages from the Town of Tyrone, defendants raise the defense that plaintiffs’ claims are or may be barred in whole or in part by the doctrines of sovereign, governmental, qualified and official immunity.”

Portions of the third defense position responds to the residents’ assertion that their residential or business property will be substantially affected by the presence of the gun shop and shooting range under the rezoning. Also included in the third defense was the response to residents’ assertion that adjacent property owners will bear the brunt of the negative impacts from the presence of the gun shop and shooting range. Those negative impacts include reduced property values, noise, potential lead contamination in the neighborhood and intrusions of peace and privacy.

The town’s position is that plaintiffs do not have the standing to challenge the zoning because they, “Do not have a substantial interest in the zoning decisions and cannot show that their property will suffer special damage as a result of the (zoning) decisions.”

The response also denies that the residents are the owners of property adjacent to the subject property and denies that they will suffer a negative impact. Additionally, the response states that alleged damages are speculative and not sufficient to establish a standing for the complaint.

Plaintiffs in the suit include Southampton subdivision residents Leila Richardson, Wayne Mason, Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, Larry Bennet, Donna Ballard, Natalie Milner, Michelle Williams and Thomas Redd and Southampton Plaza shopping center business owner LaGuana Albarracin.

The suit filed April 2 by attorney Wayne Kendall is appealing the rezoning in March “approving the allowance of a gun shop as a conditional use in a C-2 (Commercial HIghway) zoning district and also the allowance of a shooting range as an accessory use to a gun shop on the subject property and seek(s) a declaratory judgment to declare these rezoning decisions to be a manifest abuse of rezoning power and therefore illegal and void.”

The vote at the May 3 meeting of the Tyrone Town Council over zoning changes that included guns shops as a conditional use of C-2 (Highway Commercial) zoning came with unanimous approval. The agenda topic was essentially a reconsideration of the previous zoning district change from PUD (Planned Unit Development) to C-2 and the inclusion of guns shops as a conditional use in C-2.

In a separate but associated matter, the Tyrone Neighborhood Association on May 4 filed a suit against Southampton Village property owner Phil Seay, that Atlanta Gun Club and the town of Tyrone over what the group says would be the dispersal of toxic material and lead dust particulate from ammunition if the gun shop and shooting range is opened. The suit claims the development of the property would violate a 1997 convenant agreement between Seay and the Southampton subdivision that restricts the introduction of hazardous materials in the shopping center property.

The town has not yet responded to the May 4 complaint.