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Hall commissioners vote down pawnshop ordinance

POSTED: March 29, 2013 1:21 a.m.

It’s back to the drawing board for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office after county commissioners voted down regulations on pawnshops, secondhand stores and jewelry dealers.

Several business owners spoke against the proposed laws at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday evening. The ordinance would require dealers to record transactions and upload the information into a national online database that law enforcement officers could access.

Many speakers said the regulations placed a large burden on small-business owners who already were struggling because of the weak economy.

Myra Meade, owner of Hall Book Exchange, said she believes the current system works and the proposed ordinances would be intrusive.

“We don’t need government helping us run our businesses and running them into the ground,” Meade said. “We’re having a hard enough time as it is.”

The vote was 4-1 to deny, with board Chairman Richard Mecum the only dissenter.

Commissioner Jeff Stowe said he was voting against the current ordinances but that he was in support of working with the sheriff’s office to develop rules that were more business-friendly.

Commissioners Craig Lutz and Mecum spoke passionately on opposite sides of the issue.

Lutz said the proposed 30-day hold before a dealer can sell the merchandise creates a cash flow problem that could cause businesses to fail. He also had a problem with the rule that said the seller of items that appear new or in original packaging must have the original receipt. He displayed a Barbie doll in its packaging to make his point.

“I don’t believe we should pass laws just for the sake of passing laws,” Lutz said. “That’s not what we’re here for.”

Mecum, a former Hall County sheriff, defended his former colleagues in law enforcement and talked about when he went to a resident’s house years ago to make a burglary report. The homeowner was very upset.

“And she said, with a voice, you could tell she was emotionally disturbed, and she said ‘My house has been raped,’” he said. “I want to get criminals off the street, and this is one way to do it.”

Maj. John Latty of the sheriff’s office said he clearly heard the concerns of the commissioners and the business owners and hopes to try again with another ordinance.

“We look forward to working with the commission and the business folks, as was suggested to us, to see if we can’t modify and come up with a better ordinance, one that will be acceptable to everybody,” Latty said.


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