An ammunition manufacturer that has targeted a location in Northampton County for a new plant is asking for a zoning change to make it happen.
Representatives of Accu-Maxx Ammunition Assembly proposed an amendment to the Williams Township zoning ordinance Wednesday night that would allow ammunition to be assembled and gunpowder stored in a General Industrial District.
The Hackensack, N.J.-based company wants to build a 5,000 square foot facility at 70 Hilton St., on the site of the Heritage Guild shooting range. The ammunition would be sold only to shooting ranges and law enforcement organizations.
Accu-Maxx Atty. Thomas J. Schlegel told township supervisors that the amendment was needed because the zoning ordinance doesn't allow such a business anywhere in the municipality.
The supervisors voted 2-1 to send the proposed amendment to the planning commission for study, after solicitor Jonathan J. Reiss assured them that any amendment would have to come back before the supervisors for a public hearing.
Supervisor Vincent Foglia cast the dissenting vote, saying he was concerned that having such a facility in the township would be "another driver for us to have a local police force."
"How can we secure your facility?" Foglia asked Jim Calderio and Tal Najjar, who along with Philip Mastro, are the partners in Accu-Maxx.
"We don't have a full-time police department. ... State troopers come from 30 minutes away, up in Belfast" when there is a problem, Foglia said.
Foglia speculated that the plant might even attract domestic terrorists who want to make pipe bombs. "We're a small town, and I don't want to be part of that," he said.
Calderio told Foglia that the plant would have to be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and that the ATF would inspect it a minimum of once a year.
He and Najjar noted that only smokeless white gunpowder, not explosive black gunpowder, would be used in making the ammunition. The white powder, which is flammable, would be stored and secured in temperature-sensitive areas, they said.
Supervisor Sally Hixon said she would prefer Accu-Maxx ask for a use variance rather than a zoning change "that would open up the whole district to such enterprises.
Schlegel said use variances are very hard to get from zoning boards because an applicant has to prove that the chosen site "is the only place where this can be done."
After the meeting, Najjar told WFMZ.com that he and his partners want to build the plant because ammunition is currently in short supply.
Najjar said that while he is an architect, Calderio has experience in the ammunition business.
He said that the plant will be automated, and employ three to five employees.
Najjar said here was no timetable for opening the plant.