Riverdale modifies business zone

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 1:48 PM

Deanne Winterton

RIVERDALE — A recent modification to commercial zone uses limits the number of specific types of businesses in this city, clamping down specifically on smoke shops.

The ordinance enacts regulations specific to businesses associated with payday loans, check cashing, title loans, pawn shops, and gold buyers in the C-3 zone. According to the amendment, only one of each of those sorts of businesses will be allowed for every 4,000 residents.

Guidelines are a little stricter for smoke shops. The amendment allows one smoke shop for every 9,000 residents. Retail smoke shops will only be allowed in the C-3 zone as a conditional use. According to state guidelines, smoke shops must locate at least 1,000 feet away from “community” locations such as schools, churches, libraries or parks.

The city also established requirements that allow a smoke shop to sell only “tobacco and tobacco related products meaning: cigarettes, cigars, blunts, cigarillos, little cigars, snuff and dipping tobacco.” The city prohibited a smoke shop from selling tobacco paraphernalia other than pipes, rolling paper and humidors.

With around 8,500 residents, the amendment means Riverdale will only allow two payday loan/check cashing establishments, two title loan establishments, two pawn shops, and two gold buyer establishments. Retail jewelers that manufacture and repair jewelry, as well as buy metal and stones, are exempt.

Already, Riverdale has three check cashing businesses.

Community Development Administrator Randy Daily said all would be grand-

fathered in, but when one ceases doing business in Riverdale, the city won’t approve a new license. Riverdale has one pawn shop, two gold buyers, one title loan business, and a potential for a second title loan business, Daily said.

The only smoke shop in Riverdale — The Smoke Shop, at 4062 Riverdale Road — recently went out of business. A business license application for a new smoke shop is still pending with the city. The new owners want to site at the same, which is too close to an LDS church according to new state guidelines.

Mayor Bruce Burrows said the city has informed the applicant of the new guidelines and is waiting to hear back from them.

“There is a side to these businesses that is less than desirable to the welfare of the community, with a less than positive influence on our citizens,” City Administrator Larry Hansen said.

Others didn’t totally agree.

“There is danger in over-regulating,” Councilman Don Hunt said. “I wonder if sometimes we don’t take into consideration the benefits somebody might get for the service” of the businesses in question.

“I would hate to see a business put in a situation where one can drive out the other,” Councilman Norm Searle said. “I would hate to have a monopoly for the whole city.”

“I do not agree with limiting any business per so many residents,” Councilman Alan Arnold said. “We should not create false or protected markets for any individual.”

Councilman Braden Mitchell said at first he agreed, but has since changed his mind.

“My first reaction was the government should stay out of the business of the free market. This issue is difficult for me because I recently visited a city a few miles south of ours, and they had these types of businesses on what seemed like every corner,” Mitchell said. “It really was not the type of business environment that I would like to see in Riverdale. It is disturbing what would come in if you just let it. I feel comfortable regulating it.”

The council voted unanimously to amend the ordinance.

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