City Looking Into Controls On Payday Advance Firms, Pawn Shops

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The City Council is looking into controls on payday advance loan shops, pawn shops, title pawn outlets and check cashing stores.

Greg Helms of the Regional Planning Agency told council members that many payday advance loan firms have moved into Chattanooga after being outlawed in Georgia.

He said such stores now line Brainerd Road, Rossville Boulevard and Ringgold Road.

Mr. Helms said a study shows that property values go up at a faster rate the farther the property is located from such an outlet.

He said from 2000-2004, property values went up 23 percent near the stores and 31 percent citywide.

Tennessee has one of the highest rates in the nation of the payday stores, Mr. Helms said.

City officials are considering setting distance limits between the stores and also setting standards on how they blend into the neighborhood. Mr. Helms said many are painted garish colors and have flashy signage.

Councilman Manny Rico said it is not just the poor who use payday stores. He said it is often those who want money for "instant gratification."

Councilwoman Marti Rutherford said of those in the business, "They are not the best people in the world."

Mr. Helms said the interest charge can amount to 300-400 percent annually.

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