None in attendance at the Aug. 13 Phoenixville Borough Council meeting would call into question the character of Buchanan Street resident David Tenhagen, but several residents voiced opposition to his request to run a small gunsmith repair businesses out of his home.
“There is no guarantee that this is always going to be safe,” said borough resident Anastasia Zarsky, “(what happens if) some jerk tries to pull something off – it seems scary.”
Zarsky was one of five residents who had questions and concerns over the business – things such as security, delivery of guns and gun parts to Tenhagen’s home, the location of a nearby playground and the character of those who would call upon Tenhagen for business.
Council President Richard Kirkner recorded residents’ stated concerns, coupled those questions with his own, and presented each to Tenhagen as a court reporter recorded the conditional use hearing proceedings.
Tenhagen, a lifelong hunter and firearms aficionado who has been licensed to conduct his business by the ATF and is “on file” with the FBI, stated that his small operation would be part-time and limited to only friends and references of friends who he would consider at great length before taking on as customers.
In additional to addressing each concern raised, Tenhagen was buoyed by several character witnesses – both neighbors and non-borough residents – who came forward and used terms such as ‘responsible’ ‘thorough’ ‘upright’ ‘outstanding’ and ‘safe’ to describe not only the man, but also the manner in which they believed he would conduct his business.
“I trust him and I live right next door,” said neighbor Marilyn Hagey, who admitted that there are some “questionable” individuals who cause trouble on Buchanan Street but felt that such a factor should not limit Tenhagen from operating his business. “The people he wants as customers are only the most reputable kind of people – like members of law enforcement – and maybe it will scare off the ones doing (illegal things).”
Upon conclusion of the testimony from both Tenhagen and those who came forward to speak to the matter, as well as questions from Kirkner and other members of council, Tenhagen was unanimously granted conditional use with the understanding that the 13 points outlined by Tenhagen and council – including that no firearms be discharged in the home – would be strictly abided by. Further, the conditional use is non-transferrable and applicable solely to Tenhagen’s present address.