After a lengthy discussion on gun laws and pawn shop activities at the May 7 board meeting, aldermen approved a conditional use permit for a pawn, gun and loan shop at 205 N. First St. in a 5-2 vote.
Aldermen Steve Myers and Walter Arnette voted no, with Arnette saying as someone who served on the planning commission for years and who respected the P&Z members he could not in good conscience vote against their recommendation.
“I have never seen the board of aldermen go against P & Z when the vote is that strong,” Arnette added.
Three individuals who had previously spoken out against the pawnshop restated their opposition to the business being located close to a school, church and residences. Ron Sansone, Bob Schneider and Bill Devine asked aldermen to deny the permit.
Grant Thornton, who wants to open the shop, said he believes the shop would draw people to other businesses in the area.
“People would benefit from service I offer,” Thornton said. “My business would help a lot of people trying to make a living and get by. Lots of people in town could benefit from not having to sell everything they own.”
Mike Bates, who serves on the planning commission, said there had been extensive discussion on the potential negative effect of pawnshops and the potential negative effects of the empty property.
“The commission recommended to deny with a 5 to 2 vote, with one abstention,” Bates said. “There were no conditions, even though Todd (Streiler) and Dan (Rahn) went to great length to ask for conditions.”
City Administrator Harold Selby said conditions were included in the ordinance discussion before aldermen.
“The CUP is valid for one year,” Selby said. “Then it may be renewed if all the standards for CUP have been met.”
City Attorney Dan Vogel noted that the conditions relate to the pawnshop portion of the business. He said the state of Missouri had pre-empted all laws and regulations relating to the sale of guns.
“When it comes to regulating guns, you have either limited or no authority,” Vogel told aldermen.
Federal law regulates licensed gun dealers and access of usable guns within 1,000 feet of a private or public school. Guns have to be in a locked container and unloaded. A shop can have guns and can have bullets, but they can’t be together.
Alderman Mike Pigg said he spoke with several police departments and the county sheriff’s department, which all had good reports on pawnshops.
“There are two pawnshops by the courthouse in Union,” Pigg said. “The Union police chief said pawnshops been very beneficial for investigations for burglary and theft. Because of the pictures they take, pawnshops have a paper trail that can lead to conviction.”
The Washington police said they get more help from pawnshops than they do from thrift stores and used goods stores where stolen goods sometimes show up.
“If a pawnshop owner thinks an item is too good to be true . . . police are called,” Pigg said. “What I found is that pawnshops are more beneficial to police departments than harm.”
Steve Myers said after having viewed a couple of pawnshops he noticed items stored outside chained down.
“Would Mr. Thornton be allowed to leave things outside?” Myers asked.
Pigg asked why outside storage of goods would be discussed in relation to the pawnshop.
“We’re making special rules for him, but catty-corner to him at Union and First streets, the antique mall has stuff sitting outside all the time,” he pointed out.
The bill was read twice in the meeting making the permit effective immediately.
Bates, Ed Gass, Carol Johnson and Pigg cast the yes votes.