Prince Frederick, MD – Despite opposition from several neighbors, a Calvert County man has been granted a special exception to conduct firearms transfers from a home office. The permission was given Thursday, Sept. 7 by the Calvert County Board of Appeals. The special exception application was submitted by Barry Covington Wood Jr. of Prince Frederick. In applying for the exception, Wood estimated about four appointments per month with individuals who have legally purchased a firearm outside the realm of a retail outlet. He added on the application, that the number “can vary depending on need.”
Wood, a long-time county resident and Calvert County Government employee, told the panel he would be picking up packaged legal firearms sent to a local post office box, completing necessary paperwork and then giving the weapon to his clients, all of whom will be “those who can legally own them.” According to Wood the process is regulated by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), a law enforcement agency in the United States’ Department of Justice. There is also a layer of oversight by the Maryland State Police (MSP). Wood needed the Board of Appeals granting of a special exception in order to begin the process with ATF.
During the lengthy hearing, Wood made it clear to the board and to his neighbors in attendance that he was not going to be operating a gun shop out of his home on Old Adelina Road. “I do not believe this will have an adverse effect on my neighborhood,” said Wood. “If I was opening up a business to sell Avon or a daycare nobody would notice. I have no intention of having a roomful of guns.” Additionally, Wood declared he had no intention of selling ammunition.
Wood’s neighbors, who circulated a petition in an effort to block his application, were still skeptical. “Because of what’s going on in the world today with guns it seems like you’re putting us in a position to defend ourselves,” said Tammie Owens.
When asked by another resident, Sharon Renee Taylor, how neighbors could be assured he would not subsequently convert is home transfer business into a gun dealership, Wood replied, “I don’t want to go to jail.”
Wood found a defender among the board members, Chairman Daniel O. Baker, a retired MSP trooper. “He’s a middleman,” said Baker. “There’s no sale of weapons at that residence. He’s a firearm transfer dealer.” As for the purchaser, Baker stated, “if he was a bad guy, he couldn’t get a gun.”
Another local resident, Rhonda Thomas, opined that Wood’s proposal was not consistent with the Calvert County Comprehensive Plan, and it would be more appropriate for the applicant to locate his business in an industrial park. Thomas stated Wood’s proposed home business “could increase traffic and bring unknown to the area.” She further noted that Old Adelina Road was once “a drug-infested area” and strangers still come to the area and dump garbage.
Local resident Carl Taylor told the board the road is bad and is a safety hazard to motorists who are unfamiliar with it. Board of Appeals Administrator Roxanna Whitt conceded Old Adelina Road “is an old country road but it’s a public road.”
“It’s a bad road,” said Board Member Susie Hance Wells, who initially conceded that the road’s dilapidated state would be the one misgiving she would have with Wood’s proposal. She later admitted that not being a road expert she would not use the road’s condition as a reason for nixing the request for a special exception.
Baker added that having a business that will generate no delivery trucks and only about four clients per month “does not a crisis make.”
The panel’s third member, John Ward noted the board has approved applications similar to Wood’s before, in fact the applicant claimed there are approximately 800 such agencies in Calvert County. “This is a very benign situation that he’s proposing,” said Ward, who made the motion to grant the special exception request.
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