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West Kendall

County commissioners to decide whether to approve West Kendall pawn shop

A West Kendall jewelry store wants to start pawning jewelry, and despite approval from the local zoning board, the county’s zoning department has appealed the decision.

Five Star Jewelers, 16271 N. Kendall Dr., applied last summer for a zoning variance that would allow the store to pawn jewelry. The store’s current zoning designation does not allow for pawning merchandise, so it applied for use variance last year.

In Miami-Dade County, a property owner can apply for an exception to the local zoning regulations to alter the use of the property, called a use variance, by bringing the matter before one of the county’s 10 community councils, composed of elected officials who handle zoning decisions in unincorporated areas.

Five Star is in a “general business” zoning district that allows businesses like grocery stores, dry cleaners and restaurants. But pawn shops are allowed only in more intense business districts that also allow gun shops, secondhand furniture stores and commercial chicken hatcheries.

The store got the green light from the West Kendall Community Council at a Dec. 10 meeting despite a recommendation from the county’s professional planning staff to deny the application.

Jack Osterholt, director of the county’s Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, appealed the decision days after the approval. The matter will now go to the Board of County Commissioners at a future meeting. A date has not yet been set.

According to county code, a use variance may be granted in situations where denying one would create an unnecessary hardship for the applicant.

“To prove an unnecessary hardship the applicant must demonstrate that without the requested use variance, the applicant, under the existing zoning, has lost all reasonable use of the property,” reads a staff report on the Five Star Jewelers application.

In that report and later in the appeal, county staff argues that the store owners would not lose all reasonable use of the property without the ability to pawn used jewelry.

Assistant County Attorney Craig Coller wrote in an email Thursday that this type of scenario is rare.

“It is not common for the department to take appeal, although it is not common for an applicant to seek a use variance,” he wrote.

Coller said the question of why it’s a bad idea to allow the store to start pawning jewelry is a “policy matter to be addressed by the Board of County Commissioners.”

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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