PAWN SHOP: Windsor Heights Debates Business

Most cities are trying to lure businesses, and the jobs that come with them, but in Windsor Heights some people are trying to keep a new business out.

Sitting just off the ramp of I-235 at 73rd Street in Windsor Heights, is a strip mall and the potential home of a new pawn shop.

It’s something that business owner Dick Woltz isn’t too happy about, “Right or wrong a pawn shop carries a certain stigma and perception to it and the general public does not view that as good perception.”

Already in the strip mall, is a payday loan office, similar to that of a pawn shop, the people who use those services likely won’t help the businesses nearby.

“I feel like it’s going to have a negative effect if these two businesses are so close to mine, I will be sandwiched between these two businesses,” Mindy Schmitt explained.

Neighboring communities don’t allow such businesses to be within a half mile of each other. The city of Des Moines has recommended that all suburbs make a similar ordinance, but Windsor Heights chose not to do that.

The city is already considering the proposal of the shop, but business owners are asking for them to take more time to think about what it could mean for their community.

“See if this is the type of business that’s going to provide economic growth for this area,” added Schmitt.

The board of adjustments has the final say in the matter.

Schmitt says it’s frustrating to think her business could suffer because of something like this, “I wouldn’t have signed a lease knowing that these types of business would be around me.”

The board of adjustments will make the final decision Tuesday. A vote of yes would mean the shop is free to open.

Residents and business owners spoke out about their concerns at Monday’s city council meeting.

The council voted to hold a public hearing on a possible moratorium on pawn shops and pay-day lenders, but that moratorium would not go into effect until March 4th.

That’s bad news for those who say a pawn shop is the last thing the city needs in such a visible location.

“Does a 70,000 square foot shop in a 60-foot tall iconic A-frame building at the base of a busy interstate exit, on possibly the busiest street in Windsor Heights, that is also a major gateway to our city really feel like it fits the character of our city?” Mike Schmitt co-owner of Moda Salon told the council.

The board of adjustment meets at 4:30 p.m.  The meeting is open to the public.

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