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updated: 8/7/2012 6:20 AM

Des Plaines nixes expansion of pawn shops

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Des Plaines City Council Monday night denied an amendment to the zoning code that would allow pawn shops as a permitted use in the city's C-3 general commercial district.

The council voted 6-1 against allowing pawn shops, with 7th Ward Alderman Dan Wilson casting the only "no" vote.

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The city's zoning code currently does not allow for pawn shops within any zoning disrict.

City staff members have received a number of inquiries to establish pawn shops since Des Plaines was awarded the casino license in 2008. There already is one pawn shop on Graceland Avenue in the downtown area.

Ward 6 Alderman Mark Walsten said he was not interested in adding a bunch of pawn shops in his ward, especially near the Rivers Casino because he believes there is a potential for increased crime.

Several of the aldermen agreed that pawn shops were not a desirable business in commercial areas, especially near residential neighborhoods, and that they didn't like the idea of making a blanket zoning change that would allow them to locate anywhere in the city's commercial districts.

"I feel it's a negative impact on the city," Ward 2 Alderman John Robinson said.

However, Wilson said that perception about pawn shops as "unsavory operations" is outdated and the current economic reality is that every community has them.

"I'm not sure that the old image of a pawn shop is there anymore," he said.

Wilson questioned Acting Police Chief Mike Kozak whether police had any problems with the exisiting pawn shop on Graceland Avenue.

Kozak said the city has had a good relationship with that business.

Applicant Peter Kozysa of Lake in the Hills said only 1 percent of stolen merchandise is sold at pawn shops, according to the National Pawnbrokers Association, but that didn't sway council members.

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