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City to tidying up its point of view

Pinellas Park's City Council plans on banning new pawn shops and used-car lots from certain areas of the city. Next up: Thrift shops.

Saying they want to improve the looks and image of Pinellas Park, council members plan to ban pawn shops and used-car lots from certain areas of the city.

The proposed ban could go further. Thrift stores selling used goods could be next on the list. Council members have asked city staff members to study that.

"I think it's time for us to acknowledge that our town is more valuable than used-car lots and pawn shops," Council member Ed Taylor said.

The problem, said Taylor and the other council members, is that the shops and dealers are along Pinellas Park's main thoroughfares. That presents a junky, run-down view of the city that just does not hold true for Pinellas Park overall, they said.

"That's the image . . . that we offer to people," Taylor said.

The best way to change that image is to keep those type businesses off the main roads. There are many other areas of the city where they can locate, council members said.

If the ban passes at a future council meeting, that would mean that pawn shops and used-car dealers would be prohibited from the B-1 zones of Pinellas Park. Pawn shops and used-car dealers existing at the time of the ban can remain in the area, but they will not be allowed to expand onto adjacent land. And, if the owner sells the property, the new owner would have to open another pawn shop or used-car dealership within a year or build something else on the property.

The B-1 zoning area was created to allow businesses to locate near main thoroughfares and residential areas. Businesses automatically permitted in B-1 zoning include retail and convenience stores, service stations, churches and offices. Other businesses, such as new and used-car dealers, some child-care centers and home improvement stores can get the council's permission to open in the B-1 area.

The prospect of banning pawn shops and used-car dealers in the B-1 zoning was okay with at least one pawn shop owner.

Peggy Kunda, co-owner of Hank's Pawn Shop on Park Boulevard, said she had no objection to the move. But she did have one suggestion: Ban second-hand stores.

"I think your second-hand stores and your thrift stores look worse than pawn shops," Kunda said.

Council members agreed.

The city's appearance has improved and business has picked up since the council banned day-labor sites, Council member Rick Butler said. Banning thrift stores could have the same effect.

The council directed the staff to study that possibility.

THE B-1 ZONING AREA

The Pinellas Park City Council wants to bar pawn shops and used car dealers from the city's B-1 zoning areas, which are highlighted on the map. B-1 is a business or commercial zoning located close to major thoroughfares and residential areas. The type of business automatically allowed in the B-1 area are those that nearby residents and commuters would use regularly, such as retail stores, convenience stores, banks, churches, offices and service stations. Other businesses, such as car dealers, some child-care centers and home improvement stores, can get permission to locate in those areas. If the council agrees at a future meeting, pawn shops and used car dealers no longer would be allowed to open in the B-1 areas of Pinellas Park.

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