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Commission may alter code on payday loans

Jan 30th, 2009

Cash AdvantEdge was denied a conditional use permit and a waiver from a minimum separation of 1,500 feet from other check-cashing payday loan businesses by Nye County commissioners last week.

Attorney Liz Sorokac appealed a denial of the request in front of the Pahrump Regional Planning commission Oct. 15.

Cash AdvantEdge would have been located in a 125-square-foot kiosk inside Rent-A-Center next door to Super Pawn.

But commissioners gave Sorokac strong assurances the county commission will consider changing the minimum distance requirement in the county code.

Planner Steve Osborne told Commissioner Joni Eastley the distance is meant to prevent the spread of such businesses in the community.

"These kind of uses can be seen as a negative effect on a community," Osborne said.

Sorokac said the intent is to separate payday loan and check-cashing businesses from residential neighborhoods. In this case, the applicant would be located in a commercial center far from any residences, she said.

But Nye County Planning Director Jack Lohman said the code isn't meant to buffer residences but to prevent the proliferation of such businesses.

Sorokac said the only similar transaction Super Pawn and Cash AdvantEdge share in common is the payday loan. Cash AdvantEdge will offer signature loans that don't require a checking account, money transfers, tax preparation and prepaid master cards and visas.

"There really are a limited number of commercial centers in Pahrump where these type of businesses would be located. They're typically not a free-standing store, they're usually in a commercial shopping center of some sort," Sorokac said. "As Pahrump transitions from a rural environment to a semi-urban environment, you'll have more locations."

Cash AdvantEdge services are often used by people who rent to own, she said.

"In my client's opinion, there's an under-served market here in Pahrump," Sorokac said.

In a letter to the commissioners, Sorokac, who also represents Focus Property Group, wrote the services offered by Cash AdvantEdge are offered by less than 1 percent of the more than 2,000 businesses licensed by the town of Pahrump.

Dan Simmons said he didn't think the Cash AdvantEdge business would be a blight on Pahrump's main street.

"We didn't want a downtown Main Street full of pawn shops. That's not going to happen here," Simmons said.

The county is changing its attitude to be more pro-business, he said. "Anybody who wants to bring their money to town, I say bring it."

When it came down to this application, with the existing zoning code, Nye County Chief Civil Deputy District Attorney Ron Kent advised commissioners they don't have the ability to arbitrarily waive the minimum distance. Commissioners needed to be very careful in granting the waiver to avoid setting a precedent, he said.

In September 2007, the RPC approved a waiver to allow a Dollar Loan Center to open within 1,500 feet of Speedee Cash and Sun Loan Company.

Bruce Cooey, representing Dollar Loan Center, made a similar argument that his business was different enough from those businesses, not a payday lender. But Cooey faced complaints by RPC member Nevada Tolladay about such businesses being "predatory" and was asked to explain his interest rates. He said they'd be about 200 percent -- still less than half that charged by Advance America.

"I think we need to look at our code again," Commissioner Butch Borasky said. He suggested looking at density requirements for these type of businesses instead of a minimum distance.

Borasky said he'd like to ask the planning staff to consider revising the ordinance for consideration by the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission at a future meeting.

In Eastley's words, "Strike while the iron's hot."

Source: https://www.pahrumpvalleytimes.com


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