Mayor Berke proposes zoning ordinance to limit payday lenders, p - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Berke proposes zoning ordinance to limit payday lenders, pawn shops

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Have you ever noticed all the payday lenders and pawn shops on Brainerd Road?

The City of Chattanooga has taken notice and now the mayor wants to restrict how many more can open up shop.

Mayor Andy Berke met with city council members and some Brainerd residents Monday morning to discuss a new proposed zoning ordinance that would do just that.

"What this does essentially is stop these new predatory lenders from opening up if there's one within a quarter mile or one within 500 feet of a residential area," Mayor Berke said.

Berke said the ordinance would put preventative measures in place if someone wanted to open another store that falls under the category of "alternative financial services" or "predatory lenders" as the mayor calls it.

"We're talking about title pawns, and check cashing places and pawn shops and those predatory lenders where you come in and you're told we have this easy cash, but what ends up happening is huge interest rates that cost you a lot of money," he said.

Berke said these businesses can have a negative effect on a community and its economy. But the Tennessee legislature has said these businesses can operate so this ordinance is a bit of a loophole the city found to limit the number of "predatory lenders" that would open in the future.

"To create the kind of conditions that will allow growth in our city, we think we need to have these kinds of regulations," Berke said. "People won't invest in new neighborhoods, capital won't invest in businesses, and actually researchers have shown that there is more violent crime."

Most of the payday lenders and pawn shops Channel 3 spoke with Monday on Brainerd Road referred us to their corporate headquarters.

The proposed ordinance goes before the planning commission Monday afternoon and will go to City Council for a vote by early February.

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