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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Ban on pawn shops is proposed in city
Council may set public hearing

Monday, July 25, 2011

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

City officials want to keep pawn shops out of Martinsville to deter thefts.

Martinsville City Council on Tuesday will consider setting a public hearing for Aug. 9 on proposed zoning ordinance amendments to ban the businesses.

The amendments result from talks between Martinsville Police Chief Mike Rogers and Danville Police Chief Philip Broadfoot about problems that have occurred in Danville due to the presence of pawn shops there, according to Martinsville Director of Community Development Wayne Knox.

The shops' presence "became a motivating factor for larcenies" in Danville, Knox said to his understanding.

People who needed money realized they could steal from someone, take the stolen items to a pawn shop and get money for them, he said.

In Martinsville, pawn shops currently are allowed by right in areas zoned for commercial and manufacturing uses.

However, no such shops are open in the city, Knox said. He recalled that someone once voiced to city officials interest in opening one, but it never opened as far as he knows.

Knox said he knows of two pawn shops in Henry County - one in Axton and one in Ridgeway - but to his understanding they have caused no problems.

Henry County Planning Director Lee Clark could not be reached for comment.

The ordinance amendments would remove pawn shops as a permitted use in all city zoning districts in which they already are allowed, documents show.

By prohibiting pawn shops as an allowed land use, Knox said, the city would be "basically saying we don't have any in town, and we don't want any."�

The Martinsville Planning Commission recently voted 3-2, with one member abstaining, to recommend that the council adopt the ordinance amendments. Only one person attended a hearing held by the commission, and that person voiced no opinion on the matter, a document shows.

Knox recalled that some commission members also expressed concern that any pawn shops that open might congregate in certain neighborhoods where impoverished residents live.

The council will consider scheduling its own hearing when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal building on West Church Street uptown.

Knox said council members either could adopt the amendments, reject them entirely or choose to ban pawn shops in certain districts but not in others.

Along with the amendments, the following items are on the council agenda:

"¢ Considering extending enterprise zone benefits to businesses locating or expanding in the portion of Martinsville's arts and cultural district that is not already part of the zone.

"¢ Hearing a preliminary report on the Martinsville Mustangs college league baseball team's current season.

"¢ Presenting a proclamation pertaining to this year's National Night Out, a crime prevention activity.

"¢ Considering a resolution asking for an across-the-board restoration of state aid to localities that has been reduced.

"¢ Considering routine-type budget amendments.

"¢ Hearing business from the floor.

"¢ Meeting in closed session to discuss a personnel matter.

After the closed session, the council will adjourn and then reconvene as the Martinsville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to consider setting a public hearing for Aug. 9 and a 30-day comment period to receive input on minimum rent for recipients of Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program aid.

The authority also will consider a yearly resolution required to participate in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs.


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