Horn Lake Board of Alderman have agreed to give a local gun store owner 30 days to come up with a solution to bring a building he constructed next to his business up to fire and safety code.
Danny Metcalf, who owns Bullfrog Corner Pawn & Gun on Goodman Road, added a metal building behind the existing store to use to warehouse newly arrived guns, but did so without a permit.
Metcalf told the Board at its March 2 meeting that he went to City Hall about eight months ago to get a building permit, but the city was shut down at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I tried,” Metcalf said. “I wasn’t trying to get out of anything.”
Metcalf said he saw Ward 4 Alderman Charlie Roberts in the parking lot at City Hall and that Roberts made a phone call to somebody in the city. He said Roberts then told him that it was okay to put the building up.
“He supposedly called somebody,” Metcalf said. “I was told to go on and put it up and that everything would be taken care of. And now I’m here.”
Metcalf said he thought he had the city’s permission to erect the building, but found out later that it did not meet the city’s fire or building code and now he may have to move it or tear it down.
He asked the Board if there was anything he could do to get the building into compliance.
“I was approved by somebody in the city,” Metcalf said. “I never would have spent the money to put up a building that I would have to turn around and tear down,”
Horn Lake Fire Chief David Wimble told the Board that although he is sympathetic to Metcalf’s unfortunate situation, the structure doesn’t meet the building code to be considered a building, and because it is attached, it doesn’t meet the guidelines to be considered a storage unit either because of the ten foot setback requirement.
The Board can grant a variance but can not waive the fire code requirements.
“We need to try and figure out how we can make this a building or a detached storage building,” Linville said. “The biggest thing was the exits. If it is not attached and can be isolated to where no customer could end up in there and he added another fire exit, that is one side of it.”
Linville said if it is a building, because the structure is over 8,000 square feet it will have to include a sprinkler system, more fire exits, and be handicap accessible to meet the code.
“If that can happen, I will be glad to work with him,” Linville said. “But I can’t promise you anything without going through the code and actually looking.”
Linville said he has seen the building and would be happy to work with Metcalf to see what can be done to meet the specifications in the code, but refrained from giving him any direction until the Board had a chance to discuss the matter.
“Those are some questions that have to be looked at and discussed,” Linville said. “So I don’t feel right doing anything on the building. I haven’t wanted to give any direction or anything until this board makes a recommendation of what is or is not going to happen to the building.”
Metcalf said he built the structure as a storage building and that no customers are allowed inside that building.
“This month alone, I have acquired 4,042 guns in 16 days,” Metcalf said. “That’s an average of 252 guns a day. We can not unload these guns in the parking lot and bring them into our store. That would be a disaster. We roll it in. We close the door. It’s secure. Then we can get into the building.”
Several aldermen expressed sympathy for Metcalf and were outraged that Roberts acted without authority.
“There is nobody on this board that wants to see you inconvenienced,” said Ward 6 Alderman John Jones. “You should have never listened to one person on this board - especially that person - because he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Nobody up here on this board can tell you that you can do something with their permission and get away with. Nobody.”
Metcalf said he didn’t know how the process works.
“Well, I didn’t know,” Metcalf said. “I’m not into politics. I tried. I wasn’t trying to get out of anything.”
Ward 2 Alderman Michael Guice also took issue with Roberts. “This man is trying to operate a business and go by the law, and he has a city official telling him it is okay to violate the laws we have in place,” Guice said. “That’s a problem. This man spent a lot of money to build that thinking he had gone through the process. We wouldn’t be here if that hadn’t happened.”
Roberts said he was only trying to help because Metcalf had already been to City Hall multiple times trying to get a permit.
“He came up here and it was closed and I was in the parking lot,” Roberts said. “He said he was trying to get a permit. So I made a phone call. I called our building inspector. I said he is trying to get a permit and has been up here a couple of times. We have been closed due to COVID. The words that came out of his mouth were ‘if we’re closed or he can’t get a permit, they will not make him tear it down. He should be okay.’ And it was left at that. They came out that weekend and put the building up. It’s been up forever eight months now before anything has been said about it.”
Ward 3 Alderman Jackie Bostick asked Chief Linville if he had looked at the building and whether it could be brought up to code.
“Have you discussed things with him or what fire code recommends to keep the building,” Bostick said.
Linville said Metcalf will need to decide whether to make structure is a building or a detached storage building.
“Can it stay? It’s really a storage building,” Linville said. “The biggest thing was the exits. If it is not attached and can be isolated to where no customer could end up in there and he added another fire exit, that’s one side of it. If that can happen, I will be glad to work with him. But I can’t promise you anything without going through the code and actually looking.”
Mayor Allen Latimer said Metcalf is an honest businessman who was just given wrong information.
“It was completely uncalled for,” Latimer said. “He was trying to be straight about it.”
Latimer urged the Board to give the city time to resolve the matter.
“I know that it is against the code,” Laatimer said. “But the guy was trying to do the right thing. He did not know he was given misinformation by somebody who did not have the authority.”
Guice agreed and said the board needs to make an exception.
“Normally, I would say if somebody decided to throw up a building without going through the proper procedure, I wouldn’t care,” Guice said. “It would need to come off. But when the city gives bad information, I agree we need to have all the necessary people go down there and see if there is some way to get it into compliance.”
Ward 5 Alderman LaShonda Johnson apologized for the city giving out misinformation and also agreed Metcalf should have more time to work out a solution.
“I do realize you have spent a lot of money,” Johnson said. “I would appreciate the chief going down and making an assessment and try to find a solution so you can continue to do business there. And then we can go from there.”
The Board agreed to put the matter off to its April 20 meeting.