Concerned by their growing numbers, Hanover Park officials have temporarily banned any new pawn shops, "cash for gold" stores and other lenders from opening up in town.
Village trustees Thursday unanimously placed a nine-month moratorium on such businesses. Economic development officials say they need that time to study whether Hanover Park should adopt stricter rules on how and where the stores can set up shop.
By the village's count, 14 of the businesses are up and running. Some are pawn shops; others offer payday loans at high interest rates. Most are clustered around Barrington and Irving Park roads. In this year alone, three have applied for a village business license.
"It's over the top," Mayor Rodney Craig said.
Officials describe the storefronts around the two major roadways as a proliferation that hurts the town's image and turns off lucrative retailers from the core business district. They also say the businesses send low-income residents who need quick cash into long-term debt.
Trustee Bill Cannon, who was absent from Thursday's vote, said he favors limiting businesses that feed off "desperation."
"It has a little bit of a predatory feel to it," Cannon said in a phone interview. "When you have that kind of situation, it's even more important to make sure you're not oversaturating your community."
The moratorium also will give the village time to study why pawnbrokers find Hanover Park more attractive than surrounding suburbs. What's clear, though, is the village's zoning code lacks specific definitions distinguishing the businesses, Village Manager Juliana Maller said.
For instance, payday and title loan lenders are grouped with banks and other financial institutions, while pawn and resale shops are considered retailers in village code.
"Right now, if a business comes in and requests to come here, we really don't have anything to be able to say, 'No, you can't come here, or no, you can't go in that location,'" Maller said.
Her staff members will take a look at how other towns regulate the lenders. One new restriction under review could require those business owners to secure a special-use permit, a lengthier process than what currently is in place.
The measure paving the way for the temporary ban sparked no board debate.
"I think those facilities are very predatorial," Trustee Rick Roberts said. "And I don't think they're what we need in Hanover Park."