By Joe Barker

Missourian Staff Writer

Denny Wapelhorst wants to turn his detached garage into a workshop to apply liquid ceramic and powder coating to firearms and auto parts.

In order to do that, he needs a conditional use permit.

Wapelhorst presented his case for the permit at the Jan. 21 meeting of the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission.

After making his case, the commission unanimously voted to send the request to the review committee and vote on the issue at a later meeting.

Wapelhorst told the commission he has a workshop in his 20- by-24-foot garage at his home at 315 Walls Ford Road near St. Clair. He said it’s all set up and ready to go if he gets his permit.

Randy Ratian, who said he was at the meeting representing his brother who lives in Hawaii, but owns the property near Wapelhorst, said his brother was concerned about potential runoff getting into the ground and contaminating the well water.

Wapelhorst said that while bluing, a process that coats guns to prevent rust, would produce runoff, he won’t be doing that in his garage. Instead of bluing he intends to apply a liquid ceramic and some powder coating on firearms.

Wapelhorst said the process is safe and non-toxic.

“It’s safe stuff,” he said. “It’s non-toxic. Any waste you have, you put in the trash and it’s carried off.”

Ratian said he wasn’t entirely convinced the process would be that safe and requested a water test be done. He said it would be good to conduct a test now and later.

However, the county said it wouldn’t pay for the testing and, if he wants it, he would have to pay for it himself.

Wapelhorst reiterated there would be no harsh chemicals used and no runoff would occur.

Another safety issue also is being addressed. According to documents provided to the commission, all guns will arrive at Wapelhorst’s home disassembled and will leave in the same state.

In addition to installing the required dead bolts, Wapelhorst also has installed cameras to thwart potential thieves.

The dead bolts on the garage aren’t required by the commission, but rather the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (the ATF).

Wapelhorst said he’s working on obtaining a Federal Firearms License through the ATF, but that won’t happen without the CUP.

“Enhancing the finish of a gun falls under blacksmithing, so I have to have an FFL license,” he said.

Wapelhorst told the commission he is working on a contract with a gun manufacturer based out of Pevely and doesn’t plan to do a lot of work with the general public.

He said he only expects a few deliveries a month. If the business got any bigger, he would have to find a bigger space.

“If I get enough work to need employees, I’ll need to move to a bigger building,” he said.

Wapelhorst also said he plans to do some work with auto parts, too.

“Anything (someone is) tired of painting, they have powder-coated,” he said.

Wapelhorst’s request will go to the review committee and be on the old business portion of the agenda at a later planning and zoning meeting.