We, the undersigned, object to the application made by Estate Pawn Brokers LTD (case no. 381/13) to allow a pawn shop, collateral second hand loan broker or junk dealer to do business at 1391 Jerusalem Avenue, North Merrick. We are gravely concerned that such an establishment in the heart of a family oriented residential neighborhood will negatively impact our community.
We have highlighted our specific concerns below:
1) Traffic and Congestion:
Pawn shops serve a business need by providing collateral loans and/or buying used goods from individuals unable to go through traditional banks for cash. However, individuals seeking this service are, by and large, NOT the residents of North Merrick. In fact, the only way for such a business to prosper, in the proposed location, would be to deliberately market to individuals outside the community and draw them into our neighborhood.
This location and our neighborhood cannot support the additional traffic and congestion this business will create. At present, there is heavy local traffic in this area on Jerusalem avenue due to Carefree Tennis club across the street, contributing to increased vehicular accidents. Additionally, the Carefree parking lot is filled to capacity most evenings and weekends with the overage of cars parking on William street, a narrow residential street adjacent to the proposed location that also serves the parking needs of its residents.
There is very limited parking in the rear of the proposed location and and only a few spots in front on Jerusalem Avenue, currently used by patrons of the existing stores. Cars often park Illegally on Jerusalem, blocking the vision of vehicles attempting to exit side streets (Midian and William streets) contributing to more accidents.
The corner of Jerusalem Avenue and William Street is a school bus stop where children attending local schools wait to be picked up and are dropped off during the day. The increased traffic and illegally parked cars could put the safety of these children at risk.
The proposed business will significantly exacerbate the existing parking problem, increase congestion and noise, may lead to increased vehicular accidents and jeopardize the safety of a school bus stop.
2) Attracting Criminals to North Merrick and the Potential Increase in Crime:
The pawn broker business provides individuals a means to sell stolen or ill gotten goods in return for cash. Pawn brokers assert only a small percentage of their inventory is recovered as stolen items. Logically, we can only conclude the remainder of their inventory was never identified as stolen, not that it is all legitimate. Even a percentage of stolen inventory is the result of criminals frequenting pawn shops. Pawnbrokers also contend that they cooperate with the police in locating stolen merchandise. This may be true, but their ability to assist police is predicated on criminals selling or attempting to sell stolen merchandise to pawn shops. Police routinely visit local pawn shops because that is the most likely place to find stolen items.
We are further concerned that a pawn shop will draw criminals into our quiet family neighborhood, potentially increasing crime and significantly detracting from the safety of the community. While it is difficult, to quantify the potential increase of criminal activity, some communities have analyzed the criminal records of pawn shop customers finding the majority of frequent pawners have criminal records.
An Analysis of 2011 Rochester-City Pawn Shop Transactions conducted by the Center for Public initiative found that 62.5% of active pawners had arrest records in the county. The arrests were for theft, drugs, automotive, disorderly conduct, simple and aggravated assault, criminal mischief, fraud, forgery and counterfeiting, prostitution, and dangerous weapons charges .
The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel conducted a similar investigation which found 78% of the most frequent pawners had criminal records in Florida.
3) Altering the Nature of a Neighborhood:
Pawn Brokers are typically located in industrial or high traffic commercial zones, such as Hempstead Turnpike. The proposed location of this pawn shop is part of a small strip of businesses abutting residences on two cross streets. The location is three blocks from an elementary school (H.D Fayette).
The small businesses that currently reside in the strip, including a pizzeria, nail and hair salons, a Chinese restaurant and an Insurance Brokerage, directly serve and are consistent with the residential nature of the neighborhood. North Merrick is a peaceful community with an old-fashioned, hometown culture where our children routinely and safely walk to and from elementary school, to the local shops and throughout the neighborhood. This is the way of life that has been created here over generations by the residents and local businesses, which we are striving to preserve for our future and our children’s future.
The opening of a pawn shop will significantly exacerbate the congestion and parking shortage in the area, lead to increased vehicular accidents and cause a safety hazard for local school children. Further, a Pawn shop does not serve the community, is not consistent with the fabric of the neighborhood and jeopardizes the future of North Merrick, by turning it into a commercial area with increased traffic, congestion, noise and pollution and by the nature of individuals it attracts and the corresponding increase in crime.
We respectively ask the board of appeals to consider all of the negative implications this business will have on our community. We are taxpayers, property owners, business owners, parents, students and teachers who have invested our resources, livelihood and families’ well being in this community and are asking the board not to allow a business, not suited for the area, to de-value North Merrick and forever change the lives of its residents.
Center for Public Safety Initiatives, “Analysis of 2011 Rochester-City Pawn Shop Transactions: The Year in Review,” Available online: http://www.rit.edu/cla/cpsi/WorkingPapers/2012/2012-14.pdf
“Pawn shops: Quick Cash with Few Questions,” Sun Sentinel, SCOTT GLOVER and EVELYN LARRUBIA, Available online: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1996-11-24/news/9611230168_1_pawnshops-burglary-drug-charges