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Snellville says no to pawn shop

SNELLVILLE -- Times are tough, and representatives of RCG Inc. -- Highway 78, LLC are feeling the economic pinch just like many businesses located along U.S. Highway 78 in Snellville. RCG, owners of the property located at 2671 W. Main St. -- formerly the Payless Shoe Source store -- asked City Council members Monday night to grant a conditional-use permit for the vacant property.

Georgia Title Pawn has indicated a desire to locate another of its pawn shops on that site.

"This is the highest and best use (of the property) in our opinion," said Parker Blanchard, vice president of acquisitions for RCG.

But many residents turned out for Monday night's council meeting to express their opposition to yet another pawn shop making Snellville home. There are three pawn shops -- two title pawn shops and one a full pawn shop with -- near the West Main Street location. Residents of nearby Nob Hill subdivision said Monday that they do not want special conditions granted to allow a pawn shop to locate so close to a residential neighborhood.

Councilman Tom Witts asked Blanchard why a "higher class retail occupant" could not lease the building. Blanchard answered that such businesses simply are not expanding in these tough times. The property has been marketed since July, and the title pawn shop is the first business to show interest.

Blanchard pointed out repeatedly to council members Monday that his company also owns Snellville Oaks, a large retail center also located within Snellville city limits. Residents who oppose the pawn shop cried foul, accusing RCG of trying to strong-arm the council into granting the conditional use permit in order to ensure quality improvement of Snellville Oaks.

City Council members voted unanimously to deny the conditional-use permit.