A business owner from Easton, who was formerly a Wilson Borough police officer, is looking to open a sporting goods store selling high-end firearms and other gear in the west side of town.
Gurshinder Matharu wants to open the store on his property at 734 Wolf Ave.
The proposal was presented to the Easton Planning Commission last week, with the commission narrowly voting to recommend that the city’s zoning hearing board approve the new venture.
The zoning board is meeting on July 18 to consider a special exception to the property planning rules, to permit the hunting and fishing sporting goods store as a specialty retail use.
Matharu said he is considering stepping back from his Five Rivers development business which he runs from the property. He and his family previously ran an auto repair shop there, and another auto shop now uses part of the building.
He offers to use the office on the west side of the building, with a 10-space car park, to run the shop by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
He will focus on higher quality gear than sportsmen can find in so-called big box stores, and he said consumers in the market for these items like to handle them before buying to make sure that they get something comfortable for them. .
Matharu said he had extensive training in firearms safety and was a firearms instructor for the Wilson Borough Police Department while on patrol there. Once he gets zoning approval for the business, he will need to apply to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for a federal firearms license in order to sell firearms, according to his attorney, Jeff Franklin.
Matharu, whose family migrated from Uganda to the Easton region in 1971, said that at first it would only be him and his 29-year-old son who worked at the shop.
“His training isn’t as extensive, but he was raised with guns his whole life,” Matharu said, noting that the two train with guns and practice shooting together.
It also plans to carry archery equipment, fishing tackle, lures and clothing – anything associated with sport hunting and fishing.
Matharu does not envision a shooting range for the company, but said he would like to offer gun safety courses.
The Planning Commission and the Zoning Hearing Commission in June 2021 both rejected a separate proposal to open a gun store in the same location. Planning officials at Wednesday’s meeting recalled their concerns about the business plan for this proposal.
Matharu said in response to questions from planners that he did not see the company adding congestion to Wolf Avenue, a shortcut to the West End in downtown Easton near the Northampton County Courthouse, and said noticed that someone couldn’t come in the street and buy a gun. Even with an appointment, a buyer would have to pass a background check to buy one of the firearms that Matharu said would be stored safely on site.
There was no public comment on the proposal at the planners’ meeting, and the commission voted 3 to 2 to recommend zoning approval. Commission Chairman Ken Greene and Commissioner Hubert Etchison voted no, without giving further details of their concerns, with Commissioners William Heilman, Ronald Shipman and Kim Wagner in favour. Frank Pintabone was absent.
The Zoning Hearing Board meets at 6 p.m. on July 18 in the Third Floor Council Chamber of City Hall to consider business approval.
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Kurt Bresswein can be reached at email@example.com.