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Kennesaw Seeks Solution to Pawn Shop Mistake

Poll: What should be done about Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan?

Kennesaw city officials admit a mistake was made when was allowed to open at the Mack Dobbs Point strip mall this year, despite a 2004 agreement prohibiting pawn shops from the property.

Now, city officials are weighing possible solutions to the matter, which has been brought to light by Kennesaw resident Bill Harris.

In 2004, Harris and other residents of the Summer Stream neighborhood adjacent to the 2.9-acre area at North Cobb Parkway and Mack Dobbs Road attended a series of meetings regarding the property, which developer Celestino Venturi sought to change from residential to commercial.

"Through meetings and interaction with Mr. Venturi it was agreed that certain down market, annoying or undesirable types of businesses would be excluded from opening on that property, this so as not to adversely affect our property values or have 24 hour businesses near our homes," Harris wrote in a letter to fellow homeowners.

Harris met with city officials on March 8 and has highlighted the issue on his blog, kennesawpawnproblems.blogspot.com.

While many were initially opposed to the zoning change, an agreement was reached between residents, Venturi, and the City of Kennesaw that the area could be developed as long as certain types of businesses were prohibited, Harris told Patch.

According to minutes from the Oct. 4, 2004 City Council meeting, Zoning Administrator Darryl Simmons recommended approval of the rezoning on condition of a Sept. 24 compliance letter prepared by Sams Larkin and Huff. The letter details the kinds of businesses which cannot be on the property, including pawn shops, tattoo parlors, theatres, pool halls, auto paint/body repair shops and more.

City officials admit they made a mistake.

"There was an unfortunate oversight by Zoning Staff in their review of the Cruchelow application," said City Manager Steve Kennedy. "Certain information was overlooked which resulted in the related application paperwork being signed off on by the Zoning Administrator."

Kennedy and Simmons were both present during the initial 2004 discussions about the property, along with Mayor Mark Mathews, who served on the Council at the time, and current Council member Bill Thrash.

City finance director Gina Auld recommended the City Council approve a pawn and precious metal license for Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan, and the application was approved unanimously, according to minutes from the Sep. 19, 2011 Council meeting. The license was approved in December.

"We have scheduled a meeting with the owner of the property this week and we are setting up a meeting with the surrounding neighbors to communicate the situation to them," Kennedy said Wednesday. "A final decision as to what the resulting action will be has not been identified at this time. The situation from an internal perspective has been reviewed with staff involved and this situation should never happen in the future."

Harris said he hopes a solution can be found and that the city will not simply grant a variance, allowing the shop to stay.

"I don’t foresee this as being an easy thing to solve," Harris said. "But I think the people would be interested in knowing about it. I think the general feeling would be they’re disappointed to find the pawnshop there, but I don’t think we’re boiling tar looking for feathers."

Harris, who said he has not been inside Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan, said it's not fair to simply kick the business owners out. After all, "They’ve done what they’re supposed to do," he said.

A possible solution could be that the business not advertise or present itself as a pawn shop, he said. Harris also suggested the business could move to unoccupied units at the Mars Hill Point strip mall also owned by Venturi.

"The Mars Hill property is considerably busier than the Kennesaw one and if Mr. Venturi offers to keep the rent the same for the length of the current lease (probably 3 yrs) the Pawn Shop would have a better location, and a similar space and it would be to their advantage to make the move," Harris wrote in an email to city officials. 

Harris also suggested that the city refund all monies the shop has paid as encouragement for them to move.

What do you think? How can this matter be fairly resolved? Tell us in the comments.

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Holly March 16, 2012 at 02:30 PM
So what exactly are they pawning or loaning? Is it guns? Or is it simply jewelry and other upscale items? What proof does he have that trouble is going to be caused because of the very upscale looking "pawn shop", which is also a jewelry store. The sign and nothing about the window or store front scream- dirty, scummy pawn shop. So please let them be. I personally think Mr. Harris has a point, but he need to see the bigger picture, do not pick on a small local family business, welcome them. I think Mr. Harris would rather see an empty store front building. Do you really want to see the tax money go to Acworth? Home prices are down, they are not going to get much better, but I know I would not buy a home that sits behind an empty store front. Just something to think about Mr. Harris. Now I’m off to support a local business and get me some new jewelry. We all need to do this! Support Kennesaw! Support Local!
Bill March 16, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Part 2 of 2 My question for the City and the City Attorney would be: If a variance is given to have this shop remain and assuming that the City says they won't give any other usage variances to Adult book stores, 24 hour markets etc, is that going to be the final word on it or will some prohibited business ask a Superior Court judge to require the City to let them rent at this mall? I can see their argument now: "A banned usage pawn shop is allowed but my dirty books store remains banned! This is unfair and we want our business license!" I don't know how a judge would rule and frankly I don't want to find out. The City must enforce the 2004 agreement or it is worthless and any business can end up in that mall. One more time: if the pawn shop suffers a $ loss they can sue the City or even Mr. Venturi for renting to them when he knew that such a business was not allowed in his mall. This is not the fault of the area owners/residents, we just want the 2004 agreement enforced. Bill Harris
Bill March 16, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Part 1 of 2 parts: Thank you for your comment Holly. Their adverts say they do pawn/sell guns. This isn't about what Mr. Harris (ie: me) wants or does not want. The issue is that the community around Mack Dobbs and Cobb Pky, after much discussion and several meetings, agreed in 2004, to drop protests about this Zoning Change from residential to business. Please note that all the 54 homes in Summer Stream were built and occupied when that now developed property was zoned as residential. When we put our money down to buy here there were no buildings/pawn shops there. We agreed to allow the change based on certain types of usage NOT being allowed. Many of us expect that legal agreement to now be enforced. If the City made an error and it cost the pawn shop money then the shop may have a suit against the City. The owners/residents in the area are not the bad guys here, we did nothing wrong. We went along with Mr. Venturi on his zoning change, now 8 years later there are problems and it seems that the City wants to cave in and give the pawn shop a variance to remain.
Holly March 16, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Thank for the insight Mr. Harris.I understand all your concerns. Maybe the best solution is they should just be a jewerly store and leave it at that.
Bill March 16, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Just one tiny FYI. When I got the flyer in 2004 about the meeting to be held for local residents, I phoned Mr. Venturi and told him of the meeting that night and suggested he attend. I met him in the parking lot and we spoke before the meeting and he also addressed the meeting at some length about his pending request. I was entirely impressed with Mr Venturi and the subsequent agreement made at the City Council meeting where his zoning attorney, Mr. Garvis Sams, presented his case and the agreement was reached. I believe that in October 2004 all the parties were satisfied that the zoning change was the proper thing to do and we went away thinking the issue was resolved. After 8 years we find it is not.
Bart Freath March 16, 2012 at 04:57 PM
This is not a typical pawn shop as you would see on some TV programs or in run down areas of a large city. Further, it will not be open 24/7. Finally, Government interferes way too much in both residential and commercial concerns. I suggest the new business abide by usual and customary norms which includes being a good neighbor. If trouble develops, then authorities can take appropriate actions including revoking its business license. Residents choosing to live that close to a major road should understand that, as the city grows, so does commercial development. That is the price you pay for the convenience of being closer to major roads.
Bill March 17, 2012 at 09:33 PM
There have been some developments in this matter which I think readers here might like to consider. Those thinking highly of the Pawn Shop may wish to revise their opinions when they read the details at: http://kennesawpawnproblems.blogspot.com/ With this information I think that the City will quickly move to shut down this Pawn Shop.
Tricia P March 18, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Too bad they didn't ban the pawn shop at the corner of Main Street and Jiles Road.
Joe Bozeman March 18, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Bill, You must be very proud of yourself. Seems like you have finally managed to control property that is owned by someone else.
Bill March 18, 2012 at 06:52 PM
I was pretty sure that sooner or later you would show up here and put your snout into the trough on this issue. For those not regular readers of the Patch, Joe is one of 2 big time supporters of our very own Kennesaw KKK relic who has a junk shop down on Main Street. I am not at all surprised and assume that you will come down on the side of the poor folks at the Pawn Shop, however they have a losing battle and where Dent Myers might end up in his shop until the end of time, the Pawn Shop is going to be gone very soon. Unfortunately for the Pawn Shop folks they bragged in their neighborhood that they had found a way to get around the restrictions against such businesses in that mall and yes, they did get the license initially, but making fools out of the City Commissioners and Mayor isn't a good way to get to keep it. They are on the way out.
Joe Bozeman March 18, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Bill, To be honest, I am on your side about this pawn shop issue. You did your homework and I admire that. I was so glad when you made a post last week about the Whistle Stop Cafe. It was one of the very few comments I have seen from you that was complimentary to Kennesaw or a Kennesaw business. I too like the Whistle Stop. I like the food, the people, the train, and the art on the walls. Many of the prints on the walls there are on loan to them by my good friend Dent Myers. I hope this does not change your mind about that establishment. Congratulations on your work to stop the pawn shop, I saw you twice last week, unknowing to you, and I could tell you were "full of yourself" for your work to stop the pawn shop. Please enjoy your day in the sun.
Bill March 18, 2012 at 08:34 PM
"I saw you twice last week, unknowing to you, and I could tell you were "full of yourself" for your work to stop the pawn shop" ------------------------------------------------------------------ Tilting at windmills isn't all that easy. I do tend to take up consumer related issues and in fact can be reached via: consumeractivist@hotmail.com. In addition to the Pawn Shop issue which I seem to have inadvertently backed into this time, I have also, along with other community members, taken on: 1) Registered Sex Offenders at the Superior Creek Motel, which is just across the street from the Pawn Shop. Results on that for us were generally favorable with them having at least 18 RSO's there about 3-4 years ago, to having none when I checked last week, 2) The consumer unfriendly Atlanta Journal Constitution, which to save money has been for 2 yrs 6 months having American Circulation Innovators use min. wage drivers toss their unwanted advertising circulars onto the lawns, sidewalks and driveways all around Metro Atlanta. There is no 'victory' with this latter cause, they still throw 1,700,00 of them each WEEK. They do not throw them in the Summer Stream development and have not for the last 6 months. So if I am 'full of myself' then I guess you should just get use to it as I am not changing.
Joe Bozeman March 18, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Bill, I sent you an email with my phone number. Please give me a call this week. I would like to show you what I am personally doing to make downtown Kennesaw a thriving area. Like you, I fight lots of wind mills, and all my efforts are not successful. But, I control what I can and do my best to bring positive things to the table. Believe me, I am in agreement with you on the pawn shop. That was a total mess up. There are many things I would like to see Kennesaw rid of, but I don't like to infringe on peoples private property rights when they are breaking no laws. Many things have been approved in Kennesaw that I don't like, but I try to deal with it and respect others rights. Again, the pawn shop issue was a major mess up and I hope the City of Kennesaw handles it properly. I have spoken with several city officials and I believe it will be taken care of.
Bill March 20, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Kennesaw City Council Meeting, of 3/19 When the meeting was opened to general comments from the floor, I addressed the Council about the Pawn Shop matter and pointed out that they had been 'had' by the Pawn Shop application and that the fancy title served to cover up the real purpose of the shop which was only mentioned once in their 20 page application when 'pawn shop' appeared one time only. I summarized the info that the property Owner, Mr. Venturi, was kept in the dark about the actual purpose of the shop and that the shop owners bragged to neighbors that they had gotten around the prohibition on pawn shops with their disingenuous application. I mentioned that if I were on the Council and had this happen to me that I would be very POed at the Cruchelows. Following me to speak were 2 other Kennesaw residents who confirmed and elaborated on what I had already presented to the Council. Residents of this area expect that the City Council and Zoning Department will now take this matter in hand and require the Pawn Shop to close down.
rEgJr March 21, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Mr. and Mrs. Cruchelow bragged to their neighbor that they found a way around to "beat the system"! Not only should the City of Kennesaw enforce the original "2004" zoning regulations and revoke their business license, but should also bring criminal charges against them for defrauding the city!
T March 25, 2012 at 01:30 AM
"This isn't the fault of the business." I voted in the poll but one of the choices was wrong. It is entirely the fault of the business as they chose the name of their company to deceive the City of Kennesaw and the guy who owned the mall, into thinking they were opening a jewelry store when they were actually sneaking into the mall a pawn shop. As I understand it this came apart when the people they knew around the neighborhood remembered that they had said they were getting that pawn shop in by some plan to undercut the city regulations which banned those pawn shops. So they never intended to follow the rules and now that the cat is out of the bag they don't get any sympathy from me about getting booted out of the mall. If you are going to do something to violate the regulations then probably you should not whine and moan when you get caught at it, particularly when you get caught because you have a big mouth and went around telling people what you didl
A March 26, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I was in St Louis, MO and hate I missed the meeting, however I do plan to attend the next meeting. I am a resident of Summer Stream and reside very very close to this pawn shop. The city should honor the 2004 agreement and make the business move. That was the whole purpose of us (homeowners) in the area meeting with City Council/Zoning Department of Kennesaw & Mr. Venturi. We was strongly opposed to the mall being build from the start, but we later came to a consensus WITH STIPULATIONS to Mr. Venturi building the mall. And no, we have not changed our minds about any of the stipulations. If the pawn shop owners knew about the city regulations which banned pawn shop.. shame on them for breaking the law. It makes you wonder what else they may do/have done. It is unfortunate that we are having to go through this again....who has the time. THE PAWN SHOP MUST GO. Summer Stream Resident.

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