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June 26, 2013

Council asked to take another look at ordinance

GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council is being asked to take yet another look at a controversial city ordinance which limits where alternative financial service businesses can locate in the city.

Gary Duffey of Texarkana appeared before the Council during Tuesday’s Citizens To Be Heard portion of the agenda, noting how he still wants to move his loan company into the former Braum’s location, a move which had been denied last year by the Planning and Zoning Commission and Council.

“No one will listen to me,” Duffey said. “We did not in any way, shape or form receive due process.”

In early 2012, Greenville Cash Express was seeking a change in zoning to general retail for the building at 4206 Wesley Street, which is where he wanted to open Greenville Cash Express, listed under city ordinances as an alternative financial service.

At the time, City Planner Lance Estep said he did not recommend the change because the zone change would violate the existing city ordinance and if approved could be considered illegal spot zoning.

In 2010, in response to the proliferation of the payday and auto title loan businesses along the Wesley Street general retail corridor. The Commission recommended a 1,000 foot separation requirement for alternative financial services (AFS) businesses, allowing them by right in general retail, highway retail, commercial, and industrial.

The Council later modified the Commission’s recommendation and removed general and high retail from the list of zoning districts allowed, also eliminating nonconforming AFS businesses whenever a new Certificate of Occupancy was requested.

In early 2011, the Commission and Council enacted an ordinance regulating alternative personal services such as tattoo parlors and fortune tellers. At that time, the Commission recommended that alternative financial service businesses be required to obtain Conditional Use Permits rather than allowing them by right.

Duffey said the company still owns the building on Wesley Street and has appealed to everyone he can think of in an effort to have the measure be considered again.

“It is very difficult to do business in Greenville,” he said, adding the move would serve to help ease the cluster of AFS businesses. “We addressed the congestion by moving back here on Wesley. We’re willing to sit down with the city ... we’d just like somebody to hear us.”

The Council was unable to offer a response during Tuesday’s meeting, as Duffey’s appeal was not listed as an item on the regular agenda.

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