LAWRENCEVILLE -- A second pawn shop at the entrance to Cruse Road neighborhoods isn't exactly how homeowners would like to see their community.
But officials said the business location is a sign of the times, as commissioners approved the use at the intersection of Cruse Road and Pleasant Hill.
"Most unfortunate in these economic times ... pawn shops are going to be more relevant than they have been in the past," Commissioner Shirley Lasseter said, adding that she did not have a legal justification to deny a special-use permit application from Cruse Walk Investment. "Everybody has a stigma about that. We need to try to take that away."
During Tuesday's Board of Commissioners' public hearing, neighbors complained about the current conditions of the strip shopping center, and they worried that a pawn shop would create more crime problems.
"This is not what our neighborhood wants," Cathy Steenwyk said, adding that area residents have fought back decline and brought a "revitalizing spirit" to the community. "We like the progress and we are asking you not to take a step backward."
But developer Bernard Robertson and manager Nikolay Vostrikov said regulations such as fingerprinting and taking pictures of people pawning merchandise, plus frequent visits by cops, actually deters criminal activity.
"In an economy like this, it is a very good business," Vostrikov said. "If you need quick cash, you can come to us, and we'll help you."
While Commissioner Bert Nasuti voted against the proposal, Lasseter asked before the favorable vote for Robertson to work with neighbors to address their concerns about trash, signage and other issues.