Gun dealer told to stop
Collectible dealer says Bostwick ‘wronged’ him
By Patrick Yost
A Bostwick business that deals in military collectibles, including automatic weapons, has run afoul of the city’s zoning ordinance.
Hugh Brock, the owner of Brocks, 5742–A Bostwick Highway, contended Monday night at the regular meeting of the Bostwick City Council that once the city sold him a business license, it should have made him aware that operating a retail business at the location violated city and county ordinance. Brock said he was told by county authorities that his business, in part because it provides retail sales space, violated city of Bostwick ordinance. Brock said he was told he would be forced to request a variance by the city to continue operations.
Bostwick Mayor John Bostwick said that when Brock was sold the city business license it was understood that he would be operating an internet–only business from the house. According to Brock’s website, brocksgun.com, Brock also has 1,300 square feet of retail and display space at the site. Brocks deals with military collectibles. The site includes offers for fully automatic weapons including WWII era submachine guns some valued at $55,000, as well as rifles, shotguns, medals, uniforms, knifes and other military memorabila. Brock said he believed he could not operate a retail business from the location. He said he has been in business in Bostwick for a year, after moving the business from Atlanta.
Brock said if the city did not approve the variance he would go out of business. “The only way I can keep that property and not go bankrupt is to keep that property the way it is. In my opinion there were errors made on your part on not giving the right information or asking the right questions… that may be something we’ll have to settle in court.”
Brock said he made the decision to purchase the property and establish his business in Bostwick because he believed he could operate the store from the house. He said he based that decision after telephone conversations with city officials.
Bostwick said the city contends that it was told Brock was going to operate an internet–only business. “We’re not trying to impose a hardship on your business,” he said. “We understood you wanted an internet only business and based on our zoning ordinance we had no problem with that.” Bostwick said on the business–license application Brock applied for a “internet sales” license with the city, which was approved.
"You keep saying you’ve bee misled… but you’ve misled all of us,” said Bostwick City Clerk Lee Black.
“There wasn’t any malice aforethought where I was trying to trick anybody,” Brock said.
Bostwick suggested Brock seek the variance request through the county, which would initially go before the Morgan County Planning Commission before that board’s recommendation would come to the Bostwick City Council for final approval or denial.
Brock said he had received no complaints from city residents. City Council member Angie Howard said there had been concerns regarding intense weapon firing at Brock’s location. “From time to time I do hear gun fire… are you testing?”
“We can stop that. That’s not a problem,” he said.
Brock said if he did not receive the variance he would consider seeking civil damages from the city in order to recoup business losses. “I think I’ve been wronged,” he said.