Sign on the door at 680 Elton Street on the morning of June 10 reads: "To FedEx UPS USPS ETC DELIVERIES FOR NIOSI FIREARMS DEVELOPMENT LLC WE ARE IN THE NEXT PARKING LOT TO THE LEFT SIDE OF THIS FACILITY." Photo: Peter Blasl

The proposed firearm business on Elton Street has been issued a stop-work order and multiple violations for business operation, occupancy and storing merchandise in the building without a site plan approval, use permits and a certificate of occupancy, according to Riverhead Town code enforcement reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Law.

Riverhead Town Code Enforcement was called to 680 Elton Street on Saturday, May 28 at 12:15 p.m., after a complaint was made via phone that one of the tenants, Niosi Firearms Development, was open without having approvals. Code Enforcement Officer Jorge Garcia visited the establishment, where he spoke to an employee who stated they were open, according to the report. 

Garcia talked on-site to Niosi Firearms principal, Anthony Niosi, who told Garcia he believed he was able to be open for retail only, according to the report. Garcia reported he explained to Niosi that retail was not a stand-alone use and the building did not have site plan approval. The report states Niosi closed up immediately. 

Four days later, on June 1, Code Enforcement Investigator Richard Downs and Chief Fire Marshal Craig Zitek conducted a site visit at 680 Elton Street at around 12:27 p.m.. They found the rear door of the building propped open and spoke to an individual, who identified himself as Bob, sitting behind a desk. The man told the officials he was security and was watching the building “due to his boss Anthony Niosi moving in some expensive items,” according to the report. 

Downs contacted Niosi, who said he was not open for business and brought up the prior incident with Garcia, the report states. Downs advised Niosi that he had no approvals to be in the building, according to the report. 

Niosi said he needed to move his prior belongings from his Westhampton Beach location to the new building for “storage and staging purposes” and “staging purposes because in order to maintain his [federal firearms license] with the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] he had to prove a physical relocation (which he states was done and approved by the ATF),” according to the report. 

The building at 680 Elton Street on June 10. Photo: Peter Blasl

At that time, Niosi Firearm Development’s website said the store was open at the new location on Elton Street. The website has since been updated to say the business has moved to Elton Street, but is not yet open.

Downs issued a stop work order on June 1 to cease and desist and use of occupancy without permits. 

Downs also issued four appearance tickets on June 7, in connection with the prior inspections: two for lack of use permits and two for lack of certificate of occupancy related to the storage of merchandise in the building.

Yesterday around noon, Downs inspected the site again for compliance with the order, and found the building closed with no activity within, according to his report. He stated the stop-work order was still posted on the door with a “closed” sign underneath.

Niosi said in a message yesterday he was given permission by the landlord of the property to store his merchandise in the building, including display cabinets and safes. He said the business has not received tickets yet, but the violations could have gone to the landlord. 

In a phone interview with RiverheadLOCAL on May 31, when the website still indicated the store was open on Elton Street, Niosi denied the store was open and attributed the message on the website to the mistake of the business’s website manager. 

Niosi also said yesterday the business had not sold guns since the last week of April and the building was being used to store merchandise. He said that when code enforcement arrived on May 28, the only thing going on in the building was that the business was taking deliveries for people who had already purchased firearms, since it had changed its address to the Elton Street location. He also acknowledged he needs the town’s approval to operate and sell, but said the ATF had approved the new location and said the business “must be in there by May 1,” and moved its contents because of it.

The 680 Elton Street address is now listed in the ATF database as Niosi Firearms’ place of business. A federal firearms license is specific to a place of business and must be amended if the licensee wants to change its location. An application for an amended license must be filed at least 30 days before any move, according to ATF regulations. A copy of the completed application must be provided by the applicant to the chief of police in the municipality where the licensee is proposing to relocate. Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller could not be reached yesterday for confirmation of filing. The ATF database for May 2022 lists Niosi’s place of business as 200 Rogers Way in Westhampton Beach, which is located within the Hampton Business District industrial park adjacent to Gabreski Airport.

Niosi Firearms location at 200 Rogers Way in Westhampton Beach on June 9. Photo: Denise Civiletti

In a phone interview Tuesday, Niosi said he had a security person at the building in the daytime and has just retained a firm for nighttime security.

When asked Tuesday about the burglary that occurred over the weekend that resulted in the arrest of three Riverhead men for stealing two handguns and accessories, Niosi said the guns that were stolen were not Niosi Firearms stock. He said two personal guns were stolen from a gunsmith, whom he identified as Bob, who he said works on site, although isn’t paid by the company.

“Did not breach any of our store security. We have not ever lost a gun, Niosi Firearms. And what had happened was we have a fellow who is a gunsmith and he has his own safe and then it was his own personal guns, which was stolen,” Niosi said Tuesday.

Niosi said the other merchandise stolen belonged to the store. He said he has five large safes and one medium-size safe storing inventory there; all were checked by the ATF.

According to code enforcement reports, the man on site June 1 identified himself as Bob and said he was an employee of the company. 

Property landlord Signature Partners is currently in the process of applying for site plan approval and a change-of-use application to house Niosi Firearms Development in the building, as well as an HVAC supply warehouse and distribution operation, and offices.

[See prior coverage: High-tech firearms training facility planned for vacant factory building on Elton Street]

At the June 2 planning board  meeting planning department staff said retail gun sales was not specified in the application, and the application would have to be amended. The proposed site plan indicates a retail shop at the site, which Planner Greg Bergman said was thought to be for accessories used at a firing range, such as ammunition, gloves, and hearing protection equipment — but not firearms. A site plan heating scheduled for June 2 was canceled so the application could be amended. 

[See prior coverage: Elton St. firearms hearing tabled, intent for retail gun sales had not been disclosed & application to be amended, planner says; outcry from residents]

The applicant may need to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a determination on whetherthe site’s zoning allows retail gun sales. The Commerical Residential Campus (CRC) zoning use district allows “indoor sports and recreation” uses as-of-right. The town’s zoning officer, Building and Planning Administrator Jefferson Murphree determined that a firing range is an “indoor sports and recreation” use. Retail stores are not allowed in the zoning but a shop selling accessories used at a shooting range would be a “customarily incidental” accessory use to the shooting range, Bergman said.

This may become a moot point if the Town Board adopts a proposed firearm business code scheduled for a June 21 public hearing. If adopted as proposed, the sale of guns at a firing range would be prohibited.

[See prior coverage: Riverhead Town moves to restrict and regulate firearm businesses, sets June 21 public hearing]

Denise Civiletti contributed reporting

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]