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Snellville leaders OK pawn shop relocation

SNELLVILLE -- By a vote of 4-2 Monday, Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and City Council members approved a conditional-use permit for Hill Top Pawn, owned by Paul Slifko.

Slifko has owned and operated a pawn shop on Rawlins Street in Snellville for 16 years.

He plans to build a 5,500-square-foot building on property located in the 1800 block of U.S. Highway 78, also in Snellville.

The vote had been delayed by council for weeks in an attempt to give Slifko and legal representative Michael Sullivan an opportunity to meet with neighboring homeowners in the Summit Chase and Lakeview neighborhoods, who say a pawn shop so close to their neighborhoods will decrease property values.

A conditional-use permit is required for any pawn shop locating in Snellville, and Slifko was also asking for a reduction in the required buffer of 1,000 feet to 750 feet.

Several homeowners spoke out against granting the permit in what turned out to be a second public hearing, the first being held two weeks ago.

Laura Booth, a Lakeview resident and mother, said that when her daughter's violin was stolen from school, the responding officer said right away that it may turn up in a local pawn shop. Booth said Monday that she has had other items stolen that were pawned.

"Some kids are turning to that to make money" in this poor economic climate, Booth said.

Rodney Stokes told council members that he will be able to see the pawn shop from his back deck.

Other residents said the pawn shop will sell guns and will therefore present a problem.

Sullivan said that even without a conditional-use permit, a sporting goods store could go in on that same location and sell guns. He also said a business with the operating hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. would be a great alternative to a 24-hour gas station or even a day care center.

Councilmen Tod Warner and Tom Witts said Slifko has been a good business resident in Snellville for 16 years, and that his loyalty has earned him the same from Snellville.

Councilwoman Kelly Kautz said that she voted no to granting the permit because the city's comprehensive plan calls for that area to be used as an activity node, a focal point in the city. Councilman Mike Sabbagh cast the other no vote.