Neighbors protest proposed firearms home business
August 28, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Concerns about safety and traffic led downtown Issaquah residents to join forces to stop the city from approving a permit for a home-based firearms business.
The municipal Development Services Department is considering a proposal from Michael Marinos, a longtime Issaquah resident, to open the business in the Olde Town neighborhood south of East Sunset Way.
Marinos created Bigg Dogg Firearms to offer federally licensed firearms transfers to customers purchasing weapons online. Customers could then stop at Marinos’ home-based business to pick up the firearms.
The introduction of hot-button gun rights issues into a routine planning application galvanized Marinos’ neighbors.
“Putting that kind of business in a residential neighborhood just makes no sense,” former Councilman David Kappler, a nearby homeowner, told City Council members Aug. 6.
But Issaquah Municipal Code allows home-based businesses, and does not limit firearms businesses in the Olde Town neighborhood.
“When you buy a gun from Cabela’s or big distributors, you know that those stores are secure,” nearby resident Mark Rigos told council members. “There’s alarms. There’s security. There’s police presence.”
The city sent letters to 43 people within 300 feet of Marinos’ home, and he said 37 residents reacted unfavorably to the proposal, and notified the city.
“I read through them, and I understand their concerns,” he said in a recent interview.
Only Marinos, as the licensee to handle firearms transfers, can complete the transactions, and he said he does not plan for firearms deliveries to occur when he is not at home.
“I think a lot of it is not really understanding what my end goal is, and perhaps my permit application didn’t explain it all that well,” he said.
Marinos, a U.S. Department of Defense contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a prior military service member, said safety is the top priority.
“If somebody knows this is a firearms transfer business and there are guns being dropped off on the porch by UPS or FedEx, and somebody picks it up or targets it for crime, that’s an issue,” Martin Buckley, a nearby resident, told council members.
Marinos and neighbors said the shootout between police and a gunman on the nearby Clark Elementary School campus in September 2011 made residents in the area more sensitive to the proposal.
Bill Ramos, a Southeast Andrews Street resident living about 340 feet from the site, said traffic connected to the business could impact the neighborhood.
“The traffic through there is a concern. It has been for quite awhile. We have restricted traffic coming in and out. You can’t make turns,” he told council members. “I have to drive around four blocks to get into my house because of traffic concerns, so I’m really afraid that bringing a business into our little residential neighborhood is not the ideal thing to do.”
Marinos said Bigg Dogg Firearms-related traffic impacts should not disrupt the neighborhood.
“I don’t think the traffic that a lot of people are concerned about is going to be all that much,” he said.
Nancy Whitaker, Life Enrichment Options board president, said the nonprofit organization operates a family home for developmentally disabled adults near the proposed Bigg Dogg Firearms location.
“Our residents do a lot of walking along those streets and it’s problematic to drive and park there. We have anxiety about their safety now, because they walk to the community center for activities, they walk to transportation, to and from shopping, and their jobs,” she told council members. “So, increasing the traffic in that area for any commercial business — which we’re thinking of this more as a retail business, which would bring increased traffic and parking there — so that’s of grave concern.”
Marinos continues to answer questions from Jerry Lind, the city senior planner assigned to the project, as the city considers the application. Marinos said he hopes he and nearby residents can find common ground.
“I understand their concerns, and I think, certainly, our Second Amendment protects our First Amendment,” he said.