Commission recommends against pawnshop
by Geoff Folsom
gfolsom@mdjonline.com
May 03, 2012 11:28 PM | 2519 views | 7 7 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KENNESAW — The city of Kennesaw’s planning commission denied a rezoning request that would allow a pawnshop to stay in a shopping center in a 3-0 vote Thursday.

Kennesaw City Council will have the final say on whether or not the store can remain open on May 16.

Planning and zoning director Darryl Simmons acknowledged that his own error allowed the Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan pawnshop to go into the Mack Dobbs Point shopping center, but said that error had to be corrected.

“It is my responsibility to make sure that all of the zoning conditions are met,” he said. “It was my oversight and my error that allowed the processing of that business license and subsequently their moving in to that suite ... Based on my analysis, based on the minutes of the 2004 review and based on the original intent of the land use restrictions, it is planning and zoning administrator’s recommendation that we uphold the 2004 rezoning conditions in its entirety.”

The property’s owner, Celestino Venturi, is asking the city to amend the zoning at the strip mall he owns that houses Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan, located at Cobb Parkway and Mack Dobbs Road. He wants the store to be allowed to remain in the shopping center for the remainder of its five-year lease. The pawnshop was allowed to go in the center despite a condition in the city’s 2004 approval of Venturi’s initial zoning request that prohibited certain businesses — including pawnshops — from being placed in the Mack Dobbs Point shopping center.

During the initial zoning process, neighbors expressed concern over the strip mall, which led to an agreement being reached about what types of businesses could go in the shopping center. Also among the 32 prohibited uses, which were written into city ordinances, were adult bookstores, tattoo parlors and golf driving ranges.

But the Kennesaw City Council approved pawn and precious metal and business licenses for Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan last year. The store opened Dec. 28, 2011.

Many of the 50 people in attendance at the meeting opposed the pawnshop.

“They built this business to disguise it as a pawnshop,” said Carol Robertson, a resident of the nearby Summer Stream subdivision. “If you want to be a jewelry, be a jewelry. If you want to be a firearm sales, be a firearm sales. But do not be a pawnshop, because that broke the rules.”

But attorney Garvis Sams, who represented Venturi, said pawnshops have become more upscale since the use was first restricted in 2004. He even submitted a photograph of a ribbon-cutting, attended by Mayor Mark Mathews, taken in February at Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan, before resident complaints started coming in.

“It’s aesthetically pleasing,” he said. “I would consider it a high-end retail store with a pawn capacity as well.”

Venturi also apologized for his role in putting the pawnshop in his shopping center, but said it has had no problems or any complaints of “bad looking” people around.

“I would like to say on my behalf that I have always been an upstanding citizen in Kennesaw,” Venturi said. “I have created jobs, tax revenue. I think I have created a nice looking center.”

But Bill Harris, who has helped lead a campaign against the pawnshop, said Venturi knew what he was doing.

“He knew back in September 2011 what the intended use was,” Harris said. “We’re getting stabbed in the back, and we don’t like it.”

Sams also submitted a petition with 164 signatures in support of the pawnshop, in an attempt to offset petitions with more than 100 signatures that have been submitted by residents of surrounding subdivisions. After the meeting, he denied claims that they were obtained from “transients” staying in extended stay hotels near the pawnshop. Sams said around “75 percent” of the signatures were from Kennesaw residents, with a “couple” each from Marietta and Acworth residents.

Sams said he hoped to get better results when the city council takes up Venturi’s rezoning request at a special called meeting on May 16.

“We’re disappointed, but we’ve got two weeks to work on it and get some more support for the applicant,” he said.

City council previously discussed shutting the store down because state law prohibits pawnshops from using the word “loan” in its name or advertising. But it determined at its April 2 meeting that the city did not have authority to rule on this law, saying it is a state issue.
Comments
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2 Men and a Truck
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May 09, 2012
Venturi knew they types of businesses that were acceptable, he needed the revenue and sent it over in hopes it would be overllooked, it was. That's on him for being deviant and the City for the mistake. If we expect the City to pay then we're paying for it. I say Daryl Simmons gets over there with "2Men and a Trcuk" or Uhaul and helps them move. His mistake should be our problem.
I16
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May 05, 2012
Mr. Matthews needs his WHITE SUIT AND HIS WHITE CADILAC.

Daisy, Cooter, Rosco, cletis and uncle Jessie as associates.
The Observer
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May 04, 2012
This lawyer is a huge liar. You can see how desperate these people have become. It really pisses me off that they forged signatures for some petition. Only 1 or 2 of them actually came from people who lived in this zip code. In the mean time, we need our own lawyer, cause if the council led by that failure approves the rezoning, I don't think it's constitutional to rezone just to make up for a mistake, in fact, it's completely unethical. No one said "aye" to my recall petition request, so here it is again, just in case the vote doesn't go our way.
Bill Harris
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May 04, 2012
The mall owner Venturi simply made a bad investment and got caught in a down realty market. Despite knowing that pawn shops are not allowed, last year he sent one over to the City to see if they would be licensed, it slipped through accidently, so now the camel has its nose under the tent and thinks it would like to stay there.

It won't happen. That Pawn Shop is going to be out of there this summer.

Just in case you wonder why Venturi is so interested in keeping them there, his lease is for 2 of his 17 units and it is for 5 years, that come up to approx $300,000 over the term of that lease.

From the time it was opened in 2006 it has been under performing, only in the last six months has he had 80% occupancy, even today there are still 2 units not rented and if the Pawn Shop leaves he is back in the red.

It just turned out to be a bad investment so he can walk away from it as he has an LLC and is not personally going to suffer, all his enterprises are seperate LLC's and will go on just fine if this particular strip mall tanks (he has another in Acworth).

The area residents are just not going to put up with any more nonsense from Mr Venturi on this issue.

Bill Harris

Kennesaw
Just a thought....
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May 04, 2012
Mr. Harris - The elected officials and their representatives approved this shop going into that center of their own accord. This is not the problem of the property owner or his tenant...it is the problem of the bozo who said YES. Stop speaking as if it is a sin to make a buck, especially a legal buck. Where have you been with all of the motels turned into extended stay apartments in that same neighborhood. I can promise you those are more of a blight on your community than this one shop.
Just Wait
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May 04, 2012
I'm sure this decision will cause the snobs who live in the area to ratchet their noses a bit higher in the air, but this is not fair to the business owner.
The Observer
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May 04, 2012
It is too fair to the business owners. They could have gone somewhere else, but no, they're so stubborn and arrogant, as is Matthews. Plus, if they can afford their own lawyer, they can afford to move.
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