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Oct 5 / Neal

Status of Community vs. EZ Pawn

An open letter from attorney Larry Andolino regarding the EX-Pawn situation:

Dear Neighbors:

Please be advised that a court hearing is set on December 4, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Richard J. Daley Center,50 W. Washington Street, Room 2403.

As everyone knows, our community came together in opposition to an application by EZ Pawn to be granted a special use to operate a Pawn Shop at 6432 W. North Avenue, Chicago. When EZ Pawn first applied for a Special Use Permit, Alderman Sposato sought community input on whether or not the community was in favor and held meetings for input.

Public input resulted in overwhelming opposition to this use. There were over 300 signatures on petitions in opposition to allowing a special use for EZ Pawn to operate a pawn shop.

This matter then proceeded to a hearing before the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals. At that hearing the petitions were submitted and there were over 30 residents including Alderman Sposato that gave testimony in opposition to this pawn shop.

The concerns of the community were crime, lack of parking and numerous residents testified that this use would have an adverse impact on our commercial district.

The Zoning Board of Appeals granted EZ Pawn a Special Use Permit to operate a fifth pawn shop within 1000 feet of one another. At the hearing, the Zoning Board of Appeals referenced a letter of support of this fifth Pawn Shop by Alderman Graham (29Th Ward).

After EZ Pawn was granted their Special Use to operate, a Lawsuit was filed in a last chance effort to prevent a use the community was overwhelmingly against. Alderman Sposato donated costs for circuit court filing fees. Many community members, including the named plaintiffs donated their time and effort to circulate petitions and attend hearings. Everyone has really come together on this issue and should be proud of their efforts.

At this point, EZ Pawn, through its attorney, Victor Reyes, has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint filed by the community. The motion to dismiss is based upon a legal concept called standing. Standing means a person/community must have a stake in the outcome and in addition, a person/community must show that they would suffer a harm by the ruling.

To summarize their legal argument, EZ Pawn’s position is that only people who live within 250 feet of the EZ Pawn can argue that they object to it andEZ Pawn argues that none of the plaintiff or the community can show they will be adversely impacted by the pawn shop and no one can show their property will be substantially affected by a fifth pawn shop.

It is our argument that there were residents that live within 250 feet of this pawn shop that came to the hearing and objected. These same people also testified that a fifth pawn shop will have an adverse impact on their property. We have also argued the whole community is impacted by the commercial district. Many community members came to the hearing and testified that this is not a use they desire. Community members testified that a fifth pawn shop would have an adverse effect on their property, quality of life and safety.

The arguments that are going to be made on December 4, 2013 are very technical legal arguments. At this point we are fighting for our right to even appeal the decision. We are trying to get to the point in the case were we can argue to the Judge that the Zoning Board of Appeals should not have allowed a 5th Pawn Shop because in order to do so, the law required the Pawn Shop to prove that it was in the public’s interest. We have maintained our position that a fifth pawn shop was not in the public’s interest because quite simply…the overwhelming majority of the community stated that they did not want this use and for good reasons such as potential increased crime, and adverse impact on economic development and property values.

            If we cannot convince the Judge we have standing the lawsuit will be over.

I have always stated that this matter is a hard battle and that a Zoning Board decision is rarely overturned. We filed this lawsuit because we have to protect the voice and wishes of the majority. We filed this lawsuit to make a stand and let the few that would dictate to the many, know that we will be heard. I promise everyone that I will fight as hard as I can and to the best of my ability to prevent this use from being granted.

I just want everyone to know, no matter if we win or lose, this legal battle, the community still has a victory!

We have all come together for a common issue and with a common goal to ensure what is best for the community. We have sent a message that we care, are involved in what happens to our community, and that we will not stand quietly when it comes to protecting our community.

On December 4, 2013 please show your support in opposition to the EZ Pawn and attend the hearing.  Again the hearing is at the Richard J. Daley Center,50 W. Washington Street, Room 2403.

Sincerely,

Larry Andolino
andolino@sbcglobal.net

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