Ryan Lynch of Littleton, CO wanted to sell ‘high end’ and collectible guns from his home – which also happened to be a few blocks from Columbine Hills Elementary School. To open the new business, he needed a zoning variance from the Jefferson County Board of Adjustment, something that’s normally be a routine process. So when he appeared for his appointed meeting before the board to make his case for the variance, no one showed up to oppose the idea…except Steve Bell.
When the board opened the floor for public comment, only one person rose to speak: Jeffco Schools Chief Operating Officer Steve Bell.
“This location is about three, three and a half blocks, from anelementary school,” Bell said. “Our concern, I think, is a fairly obvious one, and that would be walk-in traffic that would be able to purchase a weapon from his home, leave his home, and be on the street three blocks from an elementary school with ammunition and a weapon.”
“I don’t think it matters where a person purchases a weapon, they can be within three blocks of a school pretty easily,” a board member noted.
The board approved Lynch’s variance. Unanimously. But when 9news.com contacted him about his opposition, Bell had a convenient memory lapse. Guess he forgot the board publishes meeting minutes. And that there was a big camera to his left when he testified.
After hearing his words read back to him, Bell said his concern was not specific to any particular business.
When it was highlighted that he had spoken about “his home” and a specific distance from a school, Bell said he only testified because he’d been asked to by a group of people, which he later clarified to mean neighbors near Lynch’s residence.
In fact, during the hearing, a board member is heard off-camera asking Bell who he was speaking for.
“You said ‘our,'” the board member said. “You speaking for yourself or a group?”
“The school district. Jefferson County Public Schools,” Bell replied. “I represent the school district.”
Bell’s outright lies have the district’s PR flack doing some speedy and filling, changing the story again, and issuing the following statement:
“Jeffco Public Schools is consistently supportive of local businesses and the district has no interest in creating obstacles to the creation of legitimate businesses. The district was asked by the neighbors in the Columbine Hills area to send someone to the hearing. Chief Operating Officer Steve Bell was there on a fact-finding mission to ensure that this business posed no threat to the safety of our students. The district does not have any concerns at this point about this particular small business. Nothing is more important to us than keeping children safe.”
Your tax dollars at work, Jefferson County. The school district helpfully publishes their code of conduct for parents and students online. Under student responsibilities this important item is listed:
10. To practice and encourage honesty inacademic work and in all other transactions.
Good thing this doesn’t apply to the district’s administrators. Otherwise, Mr. Bell might find himself in trouble.
[h/t Patrick Brown for the heads up]