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Thread: Regulation of pawn shops

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Wisconsinplanner's avatar
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    Regulation of pawn shops

    The municipality that I work for has recently enacted a moratorium on new pawn shop licenses, based on recent interest by individuals to obtain a new pawn broker and seconhand article dealer license. Pawn shops are regulated through State Statutes and local ordinances, but allow them to sell guns, ammunition and knives, among other items. One was recently proposed within one of our business improvement districts where the City has spent a significant amount of money to revitalize. This is also within a few blocks of another area that the City has created a Tax increment district to redevelop a former brownfield site. Needless to say, both the Business Improvement District and the City are very nervous about the negative stigma of these types of businesses, especially in a redeveloping area.

    The Licensing Committee has asked my department to look for studies of what, if any, negative effects a pawn shop might have on the surrounding neighborhood and commercial area. They also want a comparison of other community regulations on pawn shops. We then will need to report back to the Committee to review our findings, along with potential ordinance changes. The Committee is looking to us to provide studies that show (or not show) an increase in crime....whether or not surrounding property values plummet... if a pawn shop has the potential to draw other "undesirable" businesses such as payday loan stores, rent-to-own stores, etc.?

    Can anyone point me to a study or studies that might be useful for our study?

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Not a study, per se, but still somewhat on-topic.

    The zoning code I wrote for a small Florida town required special review for certain stigmatized commercial uses.

    306.42 Retail store

    306.42.2 Definition
    Retail store establishment of ≤60,0002 (5500 m2) GFA, where ≥60% of the gross floor area is devoted to the sale or rental of goods or merchandise to the public for personal or household consumption or to services incidental to the sale or rental of such goods or merchandise.

    306.42.3 Permitted locations
    * Retail stores are permitted by right in the C-V and C-G district.
    * Businesses offering these services are considered subject to the special review process. Such uses are considered in the C-G zoning district only; and must be placed ≥500 (155 m) from residential zoned property and ≥2000 (610 m) from similar uses.
    Check cashing and personal loan services business that provides limited financial services to individuals, such as check cashing, deferred deposit and payday loans, and other short term loans.
    Pawn shop business that loans money on the security of personal property and/or automobiles; and sells unclaimed property.
    Rent-to-own business that rents or leases durable household items such as furniture, appliances, and electronics.
    We also banned day labor agencies, with the justification for the ban in the text.

    306.14 Day labor agency

    306.14.1 Intent
    Day labor agencies provide an essential service to unskilled or economically disadvantaged men and women seeking employment, and to businesses that need labor at a short notice for limited assignments. However, the presence of a day labor agency can affect the mix of people and businesses attracted to an area, warding off medium to high end businesses that are essential to create and maintain a vibrant commercial area.

    Considering (town's) small size and geographical constraints, a day labor center would have a disproportionately large impact on the Town, compared to a larger community with few geographical constraints for expansion and a large supply of land ideal for commercial development.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
         
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    Dan, those look like good definitions and enforceable. Our community ran into the same sort of problems but they were regulated by the licensing Dept. so I am not exactly sure how the ord. is worded, but we have a limited number of check cashing places permitted within the City limits. We also have an ord. regulating the amount of square footage a reail establishment selling secondhand goods can be.
    One of our major fights is used car lots in historic district I am in the process of revitalizing. We made all auto related businesses go through the conditional use process. The Council puts so many stipulations on any that they do approve that the business usually won't go in because the conditions are too expensive to meet, or the CC just denies the use all together.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Wisconsinplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Businesses offering these services are considered subject to the special review process. Such uses are considered in the C-G zoning district only; and must be placed ≥500 (155 m) from residential zoned property and ≥2000 (610 m) from similar uses.
    Thanks for the response Dan. One question regarding the distance requirements, are they measured from the business itself (building or leased space footprint) or the property line of the business?

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