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Changes to pawnshop ordinance considered
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Rather than face litigation, Gainesville City Council is expected to amend a pawnshop ordinance that has prohibited a new TitleMax from opening.

“We were willing to work with the business,” Councilman George Wangemann said.

As first reported in The Times in February, the TitleMax at 719 Jesse Jewell Parkway ran afoul of an ordinance restricting the location of pawnshops across the city. But the city allowed it to move forward with renovations before realizing the business was in violation of the ordinance.

The existing ordinance requires pawnshops to be separated by at least 2,500 feet, but Georgia Auto Pawn already is operating directly across the street from the TitleMax location.

The ordinance was most recently revised in November 2012, at which time the city marshal visited every pawnshop in Gainesville to notify owners of the change in code, according to city officials.

TitleMax completed its renovations at a cost of $115,137, according to permitting applications reviewed by The Times. City officials have declined repeated requests to comment on how the company was allowed to move forward if in violation of the ordinance.

Meanwhile, black plastic covered the freestanding TitleMax sign for months as the business was never issued a certificate of occupancy and allowed to open. Notices were posted on the windows instructing would-be customers to visit another location down the street.

While city officials have largely stayed mum on the issue as talk of a potential lawsuit emerged, Wangemann acknowledged the city had failed in its “watchdog capabilities.”

City Council will take up the amendment, which simply guts language regarding the required distance between pawnshops, when it meets Tuesday night.

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