Bill Harris said he and his neighbors in the Summer Stream subdivision off Mack Dobbs Road reached an agreement with the city in 2004 about what kinds of businesses would be allowed in a new shopping center next to their neighborhood.
But in September, city officials approved a business license for Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan in the Mack Dobbs Point shopping center on North Cobb Parkway at Mack Dobbs Road, exactly the type of business residents wanted kept out.
In his website devoted to the issue, kennesawpawnproblems.blogspot.com, Harris writes that he and other residents found out in the fall of 2004 about plans to rezone the 2.9-acre development from residential to business.
Meetings were organized with developer Celestino Venturi by nearby residents to stop the rezoning, but an agreement was eventually reached with city officials to prohibit certain types of businesses in the new development, such as adult bookstores, massage parlors and pawnshops.
“Residents concerns were at that point more towards just what would go on that parcel, which was next to the northern end of our development,” Harris wrote. “We had expressed our opinions to Mr. Venturi and some of us attended the October 4, 2004, Kennesaw City Council meeting where quite a lot of time was devoted to the zoning change. In fact, of the 33 pages of minutes of that meeting, 14 pages had to do with the zoning change.
“Mr. Venturi and his Marietta land use/zoning attorney Mr. Garvis Sams gave assurances that many types of undesirable businesses would not be built on this property. The assurances were both written and oral and were in great detail incorporated into the minutes of the meeting.”
According to minutes from the city council’s Sept. 19 meeting, city finance director Gina Auld recommended the City Council approve a pawn and precious metal license for Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan, submitted by John and Serena Cruchelow. Mayor Mark Mathews called for a vote on the application, which was approved unanimously, according to the minutes. The license was approved in December.
City officials acknowledge making a mistake in approving the license.
“It’s just one of those things that was an oversight by our zoning department, and we’re trying to work through it,” Mathews said Wednesday. “We’ve been in contact with (Bill Harris) multiple times, as well as the business owner and others. We’re trying to work through it as best we can and see what options are out there.”
City Manager Steve Kennedy said the city is evaluating options regarding the pawnshop, which opened this year.
“One would be to have them move,” he said. “Another one would be to do a temporary revision to the zoning stipulations from 2004, that would allow the pawn shop to be there for just this one time and any future applications would not be honored, and other combinations of suggestions.”
A tax service, a children’s consignment store, a nail spa, a battery store and an AT&T store occupy other storefronts in the shopping center
On March 8, Kennedy and city zoning administrator Darryl Simmons met with Harris to explain that the zoning approval to allow the pawn store was processed in error by the city’s planning and zoning staff. They said they would look into meeting with other area residents to answer questions and receive feedback regarding the matter.
A date for that meeting has not been set, according to the city.
“The worst answer for area residents is if they just give them a variance and allow them to remain,” Harris said. “The next business that wants to locate there and is blocked from doing it would then be able to say, correctly, ‘Well you gave them a variance to remain, and we want one also.’ So perhaps we end up with some adult book store or massage parlor because the city decided to let this pawn shop slide.”
Business owner John Cruchelow did not comment when questioned by the Journal about whether he knew of the prior agreement between residents and the city regarding the property.
Venturi, the developer, said he preferred to abstain from making any public comments until he meets with city officials to discuss future plans for his property.