Ward 7. Ald. Debbie Cimarossa's proposed amendment to limit consumer installment-loan businesses would apply to the entire city, but her sights are set on MacArthur Boulevard, she says.
"MacArthur is the driving force,"
Cimarossa says. "We want to make MacArthur a more family-friendly,
service-oriented corridor. When one leaves, we don't want another one
to crop up."
There are already at least five payday-loan businesses on MacArthur Boulevard, she says, and such a concentration doesn't leave any room for more. Cimarossa wants to restrict new businesses to neighborhood commercial and office districts and require 750 feet between them — two proposed zoning changes that will be discussed at a public hearing during the Aug. 20 meeting of the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission.
They'll also establish a definition for consumer installment-loan businesses to be inserted into the Springfield zoning code. As the businesses continue to pop up, Cimarossa says, a clear definition is needed to separate payday-loan operations from such companies as American General.
"We have finance companies that are being thrown
in the mix that are not payday-loan operations, and we don't want to
impact them," Cimarossa says. "Payday loans are a whole
different picture because of the interest rates they charge."
Steve Brubaker, executive director of the Illinois Small Loan Association, was unavailable for comment by presstime.
Cory Jobe, president of the MacArthur Boulevard
Business Association, has been involved with the issue since the beginning
and has nothing against the consumer installment-loan businesses (none of
which, he says, is a member).
The problem, Jobe says, is that they're too close together, squeezed between Wabash Avenue and Cherry Street.
"What we want to see happen is one certain
business not being within a two- to three-block area," Jobe says.
"It's oversaturated. Entrepreneurs in niche markets, unique
shopping and dining — it's difficult to persuade those
developments to come to MacArthur."
That's why 750 feet between new businesses is not enough, Jobe says. Although the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association supports the new changes, he says, they'd rather see that figure doubled or tripled so other businesses can move in and benefit from the area's low rent and high traffic count.
Members of the association will be on hand to discuss the issue at the public hearing, which begins at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers. Aldermen will consider the proposed change in city zoning rules at the Sept. 17 City Council meeting.
State legislators have also taken an interest in
cleaning up the rules that govern payday-loan operations, and several bills
intended to tighten the reins on the businesses' lending practices
have been introduced [see R. L. Nave, "The payday-loan trap,"
Contact Amanda Robert at email@example.com.