The Kennesaw City Council voted 5-0 at their meeting Aug. 18 to approve the one-year hold, effective the day of the vote.
The moratorium will have no impact on businesses of these types already operating within the city limits.
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said while officials were working to streamline the city’s development code, they discovered Kennesaw’s restrictions on these establishments were more lax than other cities.
“We’ve been in the process, through planning and zoning, (of) going to a unified development code — more of a form-based development code,” Mathews said. “In part of that review, obviously, we do a lot of comparison to other municipalities and other locations. And what we’ve found is that pretty much everybody has a little more restrictive … development control over … the type of these facilities, where they can be located, what particular zoning classification and how they go through the approval process.”
At the same time, Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh said she was approached by citizens who noticed there were title pawn businesses “at every gateway into (Kennesaw).”
So Eaton-Welsh, the council member overseeing the city’s community development department, approached the city’s zoning division to share the citizens’ concerns.
After hearing from both the mayor and the City Council, staff requested time to study the issue. Mathews said the moratorium was put in place to prevent conflicts between future businesses in these industries and any new restrictions the staff may recommend.
“We felt like it would be appropriate to have a moratorium in place so that if we did make some drastic changes, it wouldn’t put people in business somewhere that potentially could be in a non-compliant zoning or something like that,” the mayor said.
Eaton-Welsh said she trusts city staff to put together a strong set of recommendations for the council to consider once the moratorium expires.
According to Mathews, the city government’s efforts will make its zoning codes easier for applicants to understand by moving away from technical jargon.
“It makes the priority more of the use of the property and the aesthetics, really, the look and the feel of the project, more than the specific zoning category. So, it’s made to be a little more user-friendly and a little simpler to walk through the steps that are needed for the approval process, while providing a use that is more compatible with the surrounding areas (and) more compatible with the different types of land use we have throughout the city,” he said.