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Lawsuit may stem from pawnshop ordinance
The city of Gainesville permitted renovations of the former Mrs. Winner’s restaurant on Jesse Jewell Parkway by TitleMax before realizing the site was too close to another pawnshop and a city ordinance therefore prevents it from opening.

The city of Gainesville is bracing for potential litigation after a new TitleMax was refused a certificate of occupancy and barred from opening for business.

“We don’t want to make this situation any worse than it might already be,” Gainesville spokeswoman Catiel Felts said. “The city has to be very careful about what we say at this point.”

The TitleMax, at 719 Jesse Jewell Parkway SW, appears to have unwittingly run afoul of an ordinance restricting the location of pawnshops across the city.

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

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

Late last year, the city issued a permit to Kennesaw-based contractor SouthCore Construction for interior renovations at the TitleMax location. Only later did it come to the attention of the city that the TitleMax was in violation of the city ordinance. And therein lies the potential for litigation.

City officials would not comment on how this snafu occurred.

According to a permitting application filed in November and obtained by The Times, the interior renovations were estimated at $115,137, while a separate application for the construction of a freestanding sign had an estimated cost of $12,000. A look at the TitleMax reveals the work was completed, but black plastic now covers the large sign along Jesse Jewell Parkway.

Representatives from SouthCore and TitleMax declined requests for comment.

According to Felts, attorneys for SouthCore have contacted the city attorney, and conversations are ongoing. She said no lawsuit has been filed yet, but would not comment further.