Freeze on pawnshops sought for now

January 20, 1995|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

County Councilman Kevin B. Kamenetz wants to prevent any more pawnshops from opening in Baltimore County until officials can adopt legislation to regulate the business.

The 2nd District Democrat introduced a bill Monday night that would freeze the number of pawnshops at the 11 that planning officials and the Police Department have determined now operate in the county.

"The majority of the pawnshops in the county have opened just in the last year," Mr. Kamenetz said. "I want to make sure we don't have a rush of other shops opening before the regulations are complete."

Acting on a resolution passed by the council last year, the planning office has recommended to the Planning Board that pawnshops be regulated through the zoning laws.

Specifically, the planning office report recommends creation of a separate zoning classification and definition for pawnshops. The report also suggests that other limitations be placed on the industry.

A pawnbroker is defined as any business that lends money on items left as security.

Residents and business people along the Liberty Road corridor -- which Mr. Kamenetz represents -- have complained for several years that an increase in pawnshops in their area hampers rejuvenation efforts. They contend that pawnshops attract criminal activity.

Pawnshop owners say they provide a legitimate business that helps to control crime rather than to contribute to crime. They describe their clientele as hard-working people down on their luck who can't obtain loans anywhere else.

The Planning Board held a public hearing two weeks ago on the proposed zoning regulation. After evaluating the staff recommendations and comments at the public hearing, a committee will issue a report to the board. The board then will pass on a recommendation to the council.

It then will be up to the council to introduce and pass any legislation regulating pawnshops.

Mr. Kamenetz said it is within county police powers to impose a freeze pending passage of regulatory legislation.

"There are already enough pawnshops to meet the needs of those citizens who use them," he said.

He said a hearing on his moratorium bill is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 2.

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