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City imposes freeze on new pawn shops

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published May 23, 2016

 The Warren City Council has placed a moratorium on new pawn businesses in the city until a revised ordinance governing their zoning and regulation is adopted.

The Warren City Council has placed a moratorium on new pawn businesses in the city until a revised ordinance governing their zoning and regulation is adopted.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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WARREN — City officials have approved a request to at least temporarily put the brakes on new pawn shops in Warren until a revised ordinance governing their zoning and regulation is a done deal.

Members of the Warren City Council voted 6-1 earlier this month to place a moratorium on processing and approval of pawn broker licensing and site plans for new pawn shops. The moratorium, requested by City Councilman Robert Boccomino, specifically excludes any planned or ongoing expansions at existing pawn businesses.

“We’re going to hold off for a second reading until this passes the zoning aspects before the Planning Commission,” City Council President Cecil St. Pierre said. “After the Planning Commission has approved it, it will come back in an entire ordinance and we will approve it after a second reading.”

Warren’s existing ordinance prohibits pawn shops within 500 feet of a residential district. According to information submitted to the council from the office of acting City Attorney Mary Michaels, the new ordinance would stretch that distance to 750 feet. It would also impose a 1,000-foot buffer between pawn shops and any public or private school or daycare facility, public parks, libraries and places of worship.

Additionally, the new ordinance would require a special land use permit, recommended by the Planning Commission and approved by the City Council, for any new pawn shops or any expansion at an existing pawn business.

Councilman Scott Stevens voted against the moratorium and said he would oppose the revised ordinance as it exists because the setback requirements would spread pawn shops out around the city.

“It’s actually better to congregate them all in the same area and closer together, because then it’s easier to watch them,” Stevens said.

St. Pierre said the revised ordinance would address new pawn shops now or in the future.

“I don’t know if we’ve seen proliferation, but we’ve seen quite a few. I know of some pawn shops that are going out of business,” St. Pierre said. “Maybe things aren’t as profitable as they used to be. I think we’re taking the steps necessary to stop it in the future. You never know what the economy may bring or may not bring. Definitely, we saw what it could bring, and we can avoid these things in the future.”

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