Ammo company told license will not be renewed

Ammo company told license will  not be renewed
Employees of Anatolian Arms assemble bullets at the company's Liberty Street location in December. The storefront is zoned for commercial use and the city recently decided not to renew the company's business license. [Dave Faries]

The city of Mexico has notified Will Johnson, owner of Anatolian Arms, that his business license will not be renewed if the company continues to manufacture ammunition at its Liberty Street location.

Although Johnson called the process “biased and unfair,” city manager Bruce Slagle and city attorney Louis Leonatti both say the decision boils down to a simple zoning matter.

“They can sell, they can repair, but they can’t manufacture at that location,” Leonatti explained.

Anatolian Arms sits in a commercial district next to The Man Cave, a hair stylist shop. The city attorney points out that the manufacturing of ammunition is not permitted, even on a small scale.
The decision came at the end of March and the city allowed Johnson 90 days to halt manufacturing at the site.

“There’s nothing that has been denied yet,” Slagle pointed out. “We tried to give as much notice as possible.”

Slagle adds that the company can continue to operate according to zoning regulations. The city has no intention of forcing Anatolian Arms to relocate or close.

Johnson indicated that he plans on appealing the decision. “Nowhere in there does it say we can’t manufacture ammunition,” he said, referring to the zoning code.

There are two avenues for an appeal. Johnson could appeal the business license decision. The Zoning Board of Adjustment could also determine that the city is misinterpreting the code.
But Slagle explains that zoning regulates what can be practiced in a location, rather than specifying all that is prohibited.

“Zoning is all about protecting neighborhoods,” he added.

Areas zoned light industrial allow for manufacturing.

Anatolian Arms began as a retail shop with repair services, adding the manufacturing of ammunition to their lineup. In the fall Johnson approached the city seeking to have a larger plot of land along Liberty rezoned to accommodate heavy industry. The city denied his request.

At the time Johnson had entered into an agreement to supply ammunition to the Sacramento Gun Club in California. That contract led to a lawsuit and allegations of fraud when the company failed to deliver promised amounts.

The ammunition supply industry is suffering from shortages and increased demand. Lengthy delays in delivery and rising prices are common.

Anatolian Arms employs 15 people. Even before the city’s decision not to renew his current business license, Johnson was looking to expand and considering a location outside of Mexico.

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