Kennesaw pawnshop may get rezoned
by Geoff Folsom
April 03, 2012 01:11 AM | 4950 views | 13 13 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Attorney Michael Pryor, left, and John Cruchelow, owner of Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan, answer questions from the Kennesaw City Council at the meeting on Monday night. <br> Photo by Samantha M. Shal
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KENNESAW — The owner of property where the city of Kennesaw mistakenly allowed a pawnshop will apply for rezoning, officials said Monday.

The property’s owner, Celestino Venturi, asked the city to amend the zoning at the strip mall that houses Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan at Cobb Parkway and Mack Dobbs Road, said Atlanta attorney Michael Pryor, who represented pawnshop owners John and Serena Cruchelow. Venturi; his lawyer, Garvis Sams; and Council members Bill Thrash and Jeff Duckett did not attend Monday’s hearing at the Kennesaw City Council’s regular meeting.

Mayor Mark Mathews said the rezoning could be discussed at public hearings before the city’s planning commission as early as May 3 and with city council on May 7.

If the rezoning is denied, the pawnshop could be forced to move, Mathews said.

Monday’s hearing was initially called after the city determined the pawnshop to be in violation of a state law prohibiting pawnbrokers from having the word “loan” in their name. According to Georgia code section 44-12-138, any pawnbroker that opens after March 1, 1992, must prominently use the word “pawn” and cannot use “loan” in advertisements.

But, after a threat on constitutional charges from the pawnshop’s attorney, the council voted 3-0 to dismiss the claim referring to the word “loan.” Mathews said city attorneys determined late Friday that, while state law prohibits advertising with the word “loan,” the city had no such wording in its ordinance, meaning it has no jurisdiction to enforce the law.

Despite the city’s claims being dismissed, John Cruchelow told council members he is already working to come into compliance with state law by removing any signs referring to the word “loan.” But he said moving the business would be too costly since he and his wife already put $40,000 into licenses and outfitting the store.

When questioned by Councilman Tim Killingsworth, John Cruchelow defended himself against allegations that he physically and verbally assaulted a neighbor, which led to an arrest in September for disorderly conduct. John Cruchelow said the neighbor had kicked in his door and made “sexual gestures” to his new wife.

“I’m not a public person. It seems everybody is trying to put my business out there,” he said. “I thought he was my friend.”

The Cruchelows left the council chambers after their case was dismissed, but Pryor convinced them to return to hear comments from some of the 50 audience members in attendance. Speakers delivered more than 100 signatures from residents of nearby subdivisions opposing the pawnshop.

Summer Stream resident Lisa Stables even volunteered to help the couple move to another location.

“Hopefully, we’ll find a way to work together so the law’s held up and you’re not hurt financially,” she told the Cruchelows.

But others pointed the finger at the City Council for not enforcing the law.

“They didn’t face the issue,” Summerbrooke resident Robin Ferguson said after the meeting. “They took the easy way out.”

After the hearing, John Cruchelow referred questions to Pryor, who said they plan to work with neighbors.

“The neighbors have a right to come out and express their concerns,” Pryor said. “Obviously the Cruchelows want to meet people halfway. If there’s something they’re doing that the neighbors don’t like, they want to hear from them because they’re their potential customers.”

Mathews apologized for the city’s error, admitting a “serious, serious oversight” in its zoning department at the March 26 meeting and echoed that feeling Monday.

“We’ve been put in a very, very bad position, just as everybody has,” he said. “It’s all been a serious, very serious mistake on our part, when they were approving the business license,” he said.

As of Monday, the Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan website maintained the word “loan” in the store’s name. It was also on signs at its location at 2953 N. Cobb Parkway.

Mathews said the City Manager Steve Kennedy’s office was reviewing whether anyone should be held responsible for the licensing foul-up.

“It’s purely within his abilities,” Mathews said.

In 2004, the city’s approval of a zoning request for Venturi put in writing that the Mack Dobbs Point shopping center would be free from certain kinds of business — including pawnshops.

After neighbors expressed concern about the strip mall during the initial zoning process, an agreement was reached that restricted what could be put at the strip mall. Among the other uses prohibited at the site, which were written into city ordinances, were adult bookstores and massage parlors.

But the city council, on the recommendation of city finance director Gina Auld, approved a pawn and precious metal license for Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan at its Sept. 19, 2011, meeting.
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April 04, 2012
Mr. Mayor

We need check cashing, lotto tickets and video gambling.

Masage parlor next?
April 04, 2012
With this upcoming prescident to be set...i am curious if a massage parlor or adult bookstore can leverage the fact that the city allowed this pawn shop to open there? Go ahead and add those too, it'll complete the equation.
Just Wait
April 03, 2012
I'm not sure that an agreement with a subdivision not to allow certain types of business nearby is enforceable. If this were to go to court, it would be very interesting to see the outcome.

Incidentally, after watching the TV news report, I would suggest to the speaker in shorts and sandals, more appropriate dress might gain more respect.
April 03, 2012
First, I question the owner of the property. Property owners KNOW what kind of business is going on their property and they approve ALL signage before it is taken to the sign ordinance department in a city/county. Next, I question the Kennesaw sign authority and the business license department. Did ALL of these people miss the boat when these things were applied for? Last, this particular property has sat with many empty stores over the past several years. All of this just does not add up...
April 03, 2012
Well, here's the thing - there is NO business license clerk in the city anymore. Maybe that's part of the problem here. You got the city manager cutting staff left and right but meanwhile he stays. Recall the mayor, terminate the city manager's freshly made contract and get someone in who can run a city.
Old Vet
April 03, 2012
These people were licensed to do business at this address. Mayor and Council should step up and say someone made an error but they can continue the business until they decide to close it. Apologies are also in order.
The Observer
April 03, 2012
My comment regarding this issue on the previous article wasn't approved. I don't know why, but here I am, at it again. Fox 5 and Channel 2 were there, but they just blew the story completely out of proportion. The man who calls himself a mayor said that the entire issue would be discussed at this meeting. He lied to us. Instead, we just talked about the issue of the word "loan."I am not opposed to these owners running their business, just not here. That was our agreement! And the man who calls himself a mayor has spoken: he has no intention of keeping that agreement. He says it's because he doesn't want to take the case to court, well consider this! If you do not vote for our interests, we'll find officials who will. In reality, this is the last option we have left. Anyone in favor of a recall petition, say AYE on this page!
Tex Greenfield
April 03, 2012
I am in favor of a recall not due to his waffling on this issue but for the fact that he led all these folks on and then when one of his flunkies screws up (as most Government employees do) he doesn't take the arrows but he waffles again. That goes for both the business owners and the home owners. The Mayor has talked out of both sides of his mouth as all politicians do and made promises to both he has no intention of keeping until he figures out which way the wind is blowing and how this affects his re- election bid.

Frankly I believe it is naieve to think that you can make an agreement like this to limit someone doing commercial business on commercial property and have it hold up. The one key thing to remember is that you can have an agreement but it takes time, energy, and loads of legal fees to enforce it. This I just don't see getting done.

Also with two extended stay hotels within 50 feet and one block I cannot see what the big deal is. Plus the shop is nice and has every right to operate.

So yes re-call the mayor. Perhaps those seeking to oust the shop should use their time and money to oust the Mayor and not waste it beating the stew out of a private entrepreneur and his wife.

Also the website who put the guys personal business in the wind should be ashamed. If my wife were being come on to you better bet that would end. This has nothing to do with the facts of the business case. Just more attempts to intimidate and run off a guy who paid his fees and got his business license. More of America 2012. Lord knows you can't defend yourself from thugs and criminals without being called something bad.

Nuff said. Recall the Mayor. Let the Pawn Shop Stay.
April 03, 2012
How does, He do that?

Get under the table.

This is Kennesaw, not Chicago; Huh?
Tex Greenfield
April 03, 2012
Well Mayor you need to man up, suck it up, and get off these peoples back. All the blue bloods in Summer WInds can move to Mableton where all things are great!
Disgusted withit
April 03, 2012
And please, oh please take Matthews with you!
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