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July 21, 2013

Council talking payday loans companies again

GREENVILLE — A change in the regulations governing where payday loan companies and similar businesses can locate in Greenville may once again be under consideration by the City Council.

The Council is planning to discuss changing the controversial ordinance, as part of an executive session included under Tuesday’s regular agenda starting at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 2821 Washington Street. A work session is also planned for 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The Council is set to meet with City Attorney Daniel Ray to discuss legal issues regarding “potential changes to or deletions from the Zoning Ordinance related to Alternative Financial Services.”

Gary Duffey of Texarkana appeared before the Council June 25, saying 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.

In early 2012, Greenville Cash Express was seeking a change in zoning to general retail for the building at 4206 Wesley Street. Greenville Cash Express is 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 move would violate the existing city ordinance and 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.

Should the Council take any action concerning the executive session item it would return to open session to do so.

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