SALEM — The phone calls and emails to the Greater Endicott Street Neighborhood Association have picked up in recent days as word has spread that a local businessman wants to sell firearms out of a building in the city’s old Italian neighborhood.
“I haven’t met one neighbor yet who’s in favor of a gun dealer coming into a residential neighborhood,” said Bob Femino, co-chairman of the neighborhood group.
“It’s too close to the Phoenix School; it’s too close to the High Street Playground,” said Barbara Mann, the other co-chair. I just don’t think it’s an appropriate venue for that kind of business.”
Michael Beaulieu of Rowley, a longtime Salem businessman and former Salem resident, is seeking a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to sell firearms from the rear of 128 Margin St., a building he owns on the edge of downtown.
A hearing has been scheduled for next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at 120 Washington St., the City Hall annex.
In his application to the city, Beaulieu said the business will be “small, part time and by appointment.” In an interview, he said he expects to do most of the transactions online.
“I’m not some bad guy who’s trying to bring something harmful into their community,” Beaulieu, 54, said after being told of neighbors’ concerns. “I’m part of that community.”
Beaulieu said he helped open Corporate Connections, an office supply business that was in downtown Salem for more than a decade before moving to a one-story brick building at 128 Margin St. Beaulieu said he is not currently involved in the retail operation of the business.
“I recognize it sounds very scary because people are uneducated (about firearms). And, again, with a lot of the bias against it from the current political scenario to many in the media, it’s painted with a bad brush.