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.