The City of Wetaskiwin councillors have unanimously denied Mega Pawn Ltd.’s application to change the zoning use of a 40th Avenue building, which would have allowed the business to move into the new location and operate a pawn shop.
The business currently resides on 36 Avenue, and the building mentioned by the permit application is zoned direct control; council’s approval would be needed to operate a pawn shop from the location.
Council made its decision during its Jan. 8 council meeting.
The application has recently caused some contention in the community over the past few weeks.
City of Wetaskiwin administration received multiple submissions from the business community and other community members, outlining various concerns over the proposed change in use to the 40th Avenue location.
Concerns included how increased traffic brought by the business would impact the road, crime and mischief, compounding pawn shop businesses in that area, potential disregard the application brings to the city’s zoning plan, and a precedence an application approval could set.
City administration recommended council approve the change in use application for the purpose of operating a pawn shop.
Coun. Alan Hilgartner motioned council approve the recommendation, however the motion did not pass.
“I will start by saying I’m opposed,” said Coun. Wayne Neilson.
“We have an extensive zoning plan … In this case this property was never zoned for a pawn shop,” he added.
In extenuating circumstances the city can look at approving motions not supported by the zoning plan. However, Neilson does not feel extenuating circumstances are present in Mega Pawn Ltd.’s case.
Council’s other remaining veteran members Mayor Tyler Gandam and Coun. Patricia MacQuarrie also voiced their opposition to approving the change in use application.
“I agree whole-heartedly with councilor Neilson,” said Gandam.
He did add he had concerns of legal recourse in the wake of council denying the application.
City manager Dave Burgess informed council there was legal exposure to consider.
“I agree 100 per cent with councilor Neilson,” said MacQuarrie.
MacQuarrie wanted to table the matter and gain a formal legal opinion before moving forward. Her motion was defeated, as every other member of council voted against it.
Neilson says while he appreciates the concern over legal exposure he feels it is more important for the city to do the right thing. “I’ve chosen to fall on the side of doing the right thing,” referring to abiding by the city’s zoning restrictions.
“In my mind I believe the right decision, for me personally, is to support the zoning restrictions in place now,” he added.