Sugar Hill adopts new rules for pawn shops, gold dealers

SUGAR HILL -- Sugar Hill just made it more difficult to commercially buy and sell stolen goods.

At its monthly meeting Monday night, the Sugar Hill City Council adopted new Gwinnett County regulations governing pawn shops and precious metals dealers. The council folded Gwinnett's pawn dealer regulations into pawn ordinances it already had, as well as adopted the county's precious metals regulations where it previously had none.

With Sugar Hill having no police department, enforcement of such ordinances falls upon Gwinnett, which urged the city to adopt its ordinances for uniformity. Among other things, the new ordinances made pawn shops' electronic reporting to police more stringent, as well as heightened background checks for pawn shop employees, not just owners. It also gave pawn owners and employees right to an appeals process.

"They asked that we adopt their ordinances in cases like this so they can have one uniform set of regulations," Mayor Gary Pirkle said.

City Clerk Jane Whittington said the enhanced ordinances were overdue, particularly with commercial buyers of used jewelry on the rise amid the recession. She didn't know of any Sugar Hill businesses having sought licenses chiefly to buy and sell precious metals, and said there's currently only one pawn shop in the city, Quick Cash Pawn, on Highway 20 near Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.

"Sugar Hill is sending a message that if you want to sell stolen goods, don't come here," Whittington said. "With all the current precious metal buying going on now, it's important to have regulations like these in place."

Separately, the council gave permission for Centex home builder to erect a monument near the corner of Suwanee Dam and Austin Garner Roads to direct drivers to its Barrington Park and Barrington Estates communities. The council required that the flagstone monument be in the likeness of the entrance to nearby Gary Pirkle Park, as well as display the Sugar Hill logo and be illuminated. After four years, the monument will become city property.