Chattanooga seeks to limit payday lending and title pawns

Carol Berz

The concentration of these businesses is detrimental. We would ask that you seriously, seriously consider passing this."

Chattanooga is taking a preemptive strike to stem a tide of payday lenders and similar businesses moving into the city. But lenders themselves are scratching their heads. They say there is no tide coming.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposed zoning amendment Monday that would prevent alternative financing businesses -- such as check-cashers, payday lenders and pawn brokers -- from condensing in an area. The City Council will have final approval on Feb. 10.

And City Council members Carol Berz and Russell Gilbert, who wrote the proposed ordinance with the city attorney's office, say it would bar such businesses from opening within 500 feet of residential areas or within a quarter-mile of other similar lenders.