Complaints by neighbors could end gun sales at northeast Cobb home
by Jon Gillooly
April 03, 2013 12:23 AM | 6243 views | 11 11 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Before the housing market crash ruined his business, developer Lamar Cheatham posed in 2007 at his former home, which featured a gun range in the basement.<br>Staff/file
Before the housing market crash ruined his business, developer Lamar Cheatham posed in 2007 at his former home, which featured a gun range in the basement.

Following complaints from neighbors, the Cobb Planning Commission told architect and former developer Lamar Cheatham, a Class 3 dealer in firearms, that he could no longer continue selling merchandise out of his northeast Cobb home.

Cheatham said he doesn’t have a big business in dealing with restricted weapons.

“Generally what I do is I handle things for other people around the country, or if somebody knows me and wants something, then I’ll do it,” he said. “Because I don’t have a storefront or do it full time, then I don’t advertise. But I just know a large amount of the major players around the country.”

Guns he’s sold before include the 1917 Browning water-cooled machine gun, which today he said costs about $22,000 to $23,000; the original Colt M16A1, which runs about $22,000; the Thompson M1 submachine gun, which costs about $18,000; the 1921 Thompson submachine gun, which can cost $35,000; the Mark I Vickers Machine Gun, which costs about $18,000 to $20,000; the MP40 used by the Germans in WWII, which runs about $12,000; and the British Sten submachine, which he’s sold for about $9,000.

Three years ago Cheatham moved from the city of Marietta to northeast Cobb after his business “selling expensive homes went down the tube” in the recession, he said.

Last year Cheatham applied for a business license with the county.

“When I went in to get my business license, they said, ‘Oh no, you’ve got to have a zoning variance out there.’ I said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘Oh, that’s the code.’”

Cheatham said the city of Marietta never had a problem giving him a business license when he lived there.

“Plus, (Sheriff) Neil Warren and the Deputy Chief of Marietta, they’ve been over to the house, lot of those people have, and they didn’t want me to have a storefront,” Cheatham said. “A private business, and by private I mean a business that’s not advertised, is in everyone’s favor, plus we all enjoy the things anyway.”

John Pederson, the county’s zoning division manager, said Cheatham would need to apply for a land use permit if he wanted to continue selling firearms from his house.

On Tuesday, the Cobb Planning Commission voted 4-0 to deny the request at the recommendation of Commissioner JoAnn Birrell’s appointment to the Planning Commission, Christi Trombetti.

The matter now heads to the April 16 meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

Neighbors speak against business

Neighbors who spoke against Cheatham’s zoning request were Carlton Stott, Ben Moravitz and Greg Holzhauer.

Moravitz said Cheatham doesn’t own the house where he is living.

“The applicant is a tenant,” Moravitz said. “The house is owned by a non-resident landlord. I do not believe that they have the same interests in the neighborhood that the resident owners do have.”

Moravitz complained that allowing Cheatham to operate a commercial business in the neighborhood could harm his property values. He also said some of the orders could end up at the wrong address.

“There is a significant possibility of these articles being delivered to other residences besides his,” Moravitz said.

Moravitz said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives warns about how businesses like Cheatham’s are targeted for theft.

“Should criminals case his residence, their attention could be drawn to my residence three doors away or other immediate neighbors, and we could be mistaken targets or launching places for theft to his house,” Moravitz said.

Holzhauer said he was concerned about how Cheatham’s firearms were being secured.

“At a recent homeowners meeting, we asked for information about how he was securing these arms, and he was unforthcoming, so we do not know how he is securing these firearms,” Holzhauer said.

In making the recommendation to deny Cheatham’s request, Trombetti said she shared the concern neighbors had about security.

“If it is a business, no matter how minor or how low the activity would be, just the fact that it is a business and not just a collection, I think would increase the need for commercial-type security that isn’t typically provided or available in a residential structure,” Trombetti said.

Chairman Tim Lee’s appointment to the Planning Commission, Judy Williams, also took issue with the fact that Cheatham didn’t own the house.

“The reason I support denial is because you’re a tenant there, you’re not an owner of the property so you don’t have a vested interest. The people, your neighbors, have vested interest in the protection of their property, and they’re entitled to the safety of their neighborhood,” Williams told him.

Opposition out of fear

Cheatham said after the meeting there are two kinds of people who oppose what he is doing.

“One is the person that doesn’t like firearms, doesn’t know anything about them, and are scared to death about them, the Dianne Feinsteins,” he said. “Then you’ve got the others that don’t want anybody to have any kind of business license to run a business out of the subdivision. They say, ‘I don’t do it, and nobody else should be able to.’”

Cheatham said one of his neighbors has circulated a false letter claiming Cheatham sells grenades, and, in fact, Moravitz claimed at the hearing he sold explosives.

“That would be a different license. These people are just throwing things out there to alarm people,” Cheatham said.

If the Board of Commissioners upholds the Planning Commission’s denial, Cheatham said he will have to look for another location to host his business license, a financially burdensome task given his recent open heart surgery five months ago.

“Which means I’d have to go to a lot of expense,” he said. “Well here I’ve been foreclosed and lost an awful lot of stuff, and I’ve got all these medical expenses, and I need these expenses like a hole in the head.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
April 05, 2013
This is a high end historical gun collector and they buy, trade and sell high end historical guns just like high end Hot Rod guys do all the time. This isn’t a Saturday night special operation if he sells and M-16 it would be one on military and historical value most people can’t afford this or want to do all the expensive paper work that’s involved. If anybody tried to get into this house they would bring the full weight of the ATF, FBI and Homeland Security down on them. If the grid went down all you people complaining about this would be looking for this guy to protect them and their neighborhood just a bunch of NIMBY’s! Remember once the grocery stores are empty they are coming to the high end neighborhoods to take want ever they want to take.
April 05, 2013
No worries ole man. We have both wings and arms. You bring up two important points with your comment. First responsible gun ownership could (and has) saved lives. Thats why this chick tucks a Glock under her right wing almost everywhere she goes. Second, a responsible gun owner should not consider defense of the neighborhood within the scope of her legal rights under Georgia Code pertaining to defense of habitation (us southern chicks call this flogging to defend the roost). If the neighbors want protection they need to learn to use a side arm propery then consider purchasing one along with a means to properly secure it.

Come across the hill sometime. We can talk politics and I'll make you an omelet.
Renters Bad
April 05, 2013
The neighbors surely just think they can leverage fear of the gun business into a ploy to get a renter out of the neighborhood.

Face it, you guys lost your fortunes on your worthless McMansions, while this guy is smart enough to rent a McMansion just to put on a show for dummies who want to pour thousands of dollars into their compensatory gun hobby.

That really irks you neighbors, doesn't it! It gets under your skin that a McMansion is rented by somebody just for the business advantage of selling over-expensive trinkets to idiots who like McMansions!

As Nelson Mandela said, HA HA!
ole man
April 03, 2013
Chickens are ok, but not guns. Bad guys are not afraid of chickens they are afraid of guns. neighbors should be glad to have someone in the neighborhood that can use a gun properly, it might save their life.
what chickens
April 05, 2013
Does he let customers shoot at chickens in the back yard? I missed that part of the story!
Karen w
April 03, 2013
The Sheriff may or may not be a customer, he has to go this business to sing off on the individual receiving the firarm. The Sheriff may appoint soneone else to perform this function.

This just is additional data that shows how controlled and dangerous these transactions could be in a neighborhood.
Connie Mack Jr
April 03, 2013
Breaking News On Arms Dealer In local east cobb 1% Neighborhood..........

A unnamed source in the Neighborhood said he found out about the Arms Dealer when 15 Used M-1 Abrams Battle Tanks were park in front of the Arms Dealer House that had signs on the front of the Tanks that said " Big Fire Sale Today with live Targets on Site..
April 03, 2013
This is absolutely false. This man is my next door neighbor. As a mother and the spouse of a peace officer, I take the safety of my family and our neighbors seriously. The story about tanks in the yard and live targets is senseless rumor; that never happened. Until the zoning variance signs were posted no one would have even known he was a gun collector.

The heart of the matter is that trading antique and rare firearms is this man's hobby. He only trades a sells a few firearms each year and they are highly valuable collectors items. Many are relics of our history from wars fought to maintain our freedom.

Unfortunately he has fallen victim to a fear fueled backlash that is entirely unnecessary.

April 03, 2013
I don't have a problem with the sale, he just needs to put his big boy business guy pants on a get a store front, or share a space with another guy. He is attempting to sell "exclusivity" when he is suckering people by needing to rent in a neighborhood that he couldn't buy a house in. If he were a twenty year old with tats and piercings doing the same thing...then what would we say??
Just Sayin'....
April 03, 2013
Well, if the Sheriff is a customer, THAT makes it okay.

April 04, 2013
Hey Lamar, Come on out to West Cobb. Let those folks protect themselves with their rhetoric when the bad guys show up. Selling and trading vintage firearms ought to be commended not condemned. We didn't get to be a free people by talking the other guy to death. Preserve history,Promote capitalism,Protect our freedom.
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