Neighbors defeat pawn shop in South Raleigh

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJune 23, 2014 

— After months of outcry from neighbors, a pawn broker won’t be setting up shop in South Raleigh.

Last week, Tony Ro dropped his request to open World Gold and Pawn at the corner of South Wilmington Street and Chapanoke Road. Ro withdrew his application after city staff recommended that the city council reject his application.

Raleigh police recommended the rejection because one of Ro’s employees is facing criminal charges. The employee, who works at Top Pawn and Gold on Old Trawick Lane, was charged with violating state laws governing record keeping for pawn shops. He’s due in court later this month.

In addition to police concerns, city officials heard from more than 40 neighbors, many of them in the Renaissance Park neighborhood.

“This is not the type of business we as residents want in this area, especially when there are already several pawn shops a short distance away,” Renaissance Park resident Curt Markland wrote to the city council. “We would rather that upscale retail shops be approved for this area.”

Renaissance Park residents recently petitioned the grocery chain Publix – which is expanding into the Triangle – asking it to consider their community. The courtship of Publix stands in contrast to the area where the grocer wants to build its first Raleigh store. At that site – Falls of Neuse and Dunn roads – thousands of neighbors have signed a petition against the store.

For now though, the strip mall that sits at the entrance to the neighborhood boasts a liquor store, a bail bonds business and an auto parts shop. Residents have also complained that the property owner recently hosted a carnival in the parking lots, prompting noise concerns.

City staffers said they received a litany of complaints about the pawn shop. “These citizens are concerned that the opening of the pawn shop, particularly when there are several others in close proximity, will lead to an increase in crime and vagrancy,” revenue manager Kimsu Harrington.

Pawn shops are a rare business that require the city council’s approval to open a new location. Two others remain in business along the busy road between Raleigh and Garner – each about a half-mile from the proposed World Gold and Pawn.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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