Business owners voice concerns about moratorium - - Jackson, MS

Business owners voice concerns about moratorium

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RIDGELAND, MS (WLBT) - Ridgeland has put a hold on the construction of certain businesses in the city, like pawn shops and nail salons, that aren't considered acceptable for future plans.  But Monday some owners shared what the moratorium means for their future.

A forum in Ridgeland gave the public a chance to weigh in on a moratorium on certain businesses.

About 25 people gathered in the courtroom of the Ridgeland Municipal Court Services building.

In October, city alderman voted to extend a ban on the location of new pawn shops, tattoo parlors, title loan and check-cashing establishments, gold and other precious metal purchasing facilities and nail salons.

Jackie Mize owns Gold 'N' Guns Pawn and said she provides a service by lending smaller amounts of money that banks won't.

"I'm helping people in the Ridgeland community. I've been accused of bringing crime and blight to the area. I would love to know if there's a single case of the crime that I brought there," said Mize.

Those businesses already existing would not be affected but can not be moved to other locations in the city without special exceptions.

Al Sage spoke to the committee representing the Mississippi Title Pledge Associations' more than 200 title company members.

He urged them to find a way to work with the various shops and companies if they change ownership to keep them from going out of business.

"That's pretty much exclusionary. I think you get into a problem if you try to be so restrictive that you're basically saying you can't locate in town," said Sage.

Aldermen have said the types of businesses have had a blighting effect on the community.

Dan Robinson, a Ridgeland resident and president of Financial Service Center of Mississippi, was at the meeting to represent Borrow Smart Mississippi.

He told committee members that the city's 13 check-cashing businesses are regulated by the state and want to work with the city to create a model city ordinance.

Robinson agreed the check-cashing industry could make some improvements in business appearance.

"Hopefully we can work something out. I think most of the problems they have is with the way the buildings look and signage and store fronts and we've have some concerns with that as well," said Robinson.

The information gathering session was sponsored by the Ridgeland Community Awareness Committee.

"There is a concern that certain businesses do seem to be clustered in certain areas, and when this happens there appears to be a problem in other cities where this could lead to blight situations and reduction of rents in areas," said Committee Chairman Mike Smith.

"It has become obvious that certain types of businesses are getting to be a problem, and citizens were promised that the city would address them," said Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee prior to Monday's public forum.

The nine-month moratorium on the businesses expires in July 2010.

The committee will present findings from the public hearing to the Ridgeland Board of Alderman.

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