After speakers complained about guns near a school and church, city planning and zoning commissioners said they did not want to see a gun and pawnshop in downtown Pacific.

Commissioners reviewed a conditional use permit (CUP) application at the March 26 meeting, to open a pawn, loans, guns and sales store, in a 700-square-foot building at 205 N. First St.

Grant Thornton, 311 North Seventh St., requested the permit for the store which would include buying, selling, and trading.

Building Commissioner Todd Streiler said even though the building is small and there is no off-street parking, he believes the pawnshop would work in that location.

“I reviewed for compliance with the current comprehensive plan,” Streiler said. “There is no objection to this type of use.”

Streiler said he and Dan Rahn, city engineer, also reviewed other city codes and regulations and found nothing that would prevent Thornton’s application.

No waiver or variance was requested for any requirements.

“It complies with the city’s comprehensive plan, which identifies this location as being within the city’s business district, and allows certain commercial enterprises,” Streiler said. “The prospective owner is knowledgeable about the pawnshop industry and is a citizen in good standing.”

Streiler also said he did not think the business would cause injury to value of neighboring property or create a nuisance. Also the 700-square-foot to size and restrictions by municipal code would mitigate any injury to value of neighboring property or cause a nuisance.

Several speakers opposed the business, saying they worried about a gun shop so close to St. Bridget Catholic School and church.

“My main concern is safety because it’s so close to the church and school,” said Father Mark Bozada, St. Bridget pastor. “I’ve been working with council members to tighten up security in school as a result of the disaster that took place in the school in Connecticut.”

Robert Snyder echoed Father Bozada’s concerns saying the St. Bridget schoolchildren go to church twice a week and use Second Street to get to the church.

Downtown businessman Ron Sansone, who operates the Pacific Antique Mall at Union and First Street, said he did not think a gun and pawn shop was a good element to put in downtown.

“I don’t think it contributes to the kind of people that you want to bring in,” Sansone said. “A pawn business is not what we need downtown.”

Bill Devine said he has a son who attends St. Bridget’s School.

“I’m kind of frightened by the thought of guns in and out of that store, which is 100 feet away from where the kids are at.”

Thornton said he understood the concerns of speakers but there would never be children in the store purchasing weapons and there would never be any ammunition there.

“The chances of someone walking past my store and catching a stray bullet are no greater than someone walking their dog in their subdivisions where people have guns and ammunition in their homes, Thornton said.

Commissioner Jerry Eversmeyer said he understood the fears of the speakers.

“The nature of the people that a pawnshop brings in I think is what people are scared of,” Eversmeyer said. “Not so much that the guns are inside the building. I think it is the nature of the people bringing the guns to you is what people are scared of.”

Eversmeyer also said he thought the business would be a detriment to surrounding property values.

Eversmeyer made a motion that to deny the recommendation for the consideration of application of pawnshop, which was seconded by Steve Myers. The application was denied. The recommendation will be reviewed by the board of aldermen April 2.