‘Pawning for gold’ raises zoning issue with CC12

Is pawning gold any worse than selling it outright? That is a question East Kendall Community Council 12 may have to decide at a Dec. 17 zoning meeting.

Jorge Carvajal, owner of MG Jewelers at 11760 SW 88 St. and two other stores in West Kendall, has taken his case to the people. As the owner of three jewelry stores in Kendall for 23 years, he wants to loan money on gold (and a few other valued items) at his store located in the shopping center with La Carreta restaurant, west of SW 117th Avenue.

To do so, Carvajal had to apply for a zoning variance from the regulation that bans pawnshops in BU-1A commercial zone because such use is only permitted in BU-3 zoning districts.

The regulation creates the BU-3 district for gun shops, secondhand stores, locksmiths, garages, etc., separate from jewelry, art, business offices and similar uses assigned to BU-1A zoning.

The Development Services Division, Department of Regulatory and Economic Services (once called “Zoning”) initially has decided pawnbroking as a business accessory is “consistent” with Land Use Policy.

Nevertheless, it recommends denial because the request “is not in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the (District) regulation,” adding that Carvajal hasn’t demonstrated a potential hardship if the variance is denied.

Carvajal has agreed to establish a selfrestricted covenant with the variance that would limit pawning capabilities to “jewelry, fine art and certain antiques.”

The restriction would not allow him to deal in any other items, or in his words: “no guns, weapons, knives, tools, bikes, appliances, electronics, etc.”

“We are a jewelry store and that’s all we want to be,” he concluded.

Carvajal’s other two businesses are located at 16271 SW 88 St. in West Kendall, and at 13804 SW 152 St. in the Country Walk area, where he points out he has maintained a state and county pawn license that permits short-term loans using jewelry as collateral.

Under a re-sellers fee (“available to almost anyone for $6”), Carvajal said it allows the purchase and re-selling of any jewelry piece for resale at all three of his stores.

The Kendall businessman has sought both fellow storeowners and public support by distributing 3,000 letters, explaining in detail why the business of taking loans on gold he normally only sells is unfairly discriminated against, at least as far as local zoning interpretations go.

At a prior hearing on Nov. 12, no objections had been lodged against Carvajal’s application but the matter was then deferred to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17. It was the only item on the CC12 agenda as of Dec. 2. The hearing is at the Kendall Village Center Civic Pavilion, 8625 SW 124 Ave.

As of the Dec. 2 date, a zoning staff member confirmed that only one objection to Carvajal’s application had been recorded before or after Nov. 12.

“My family and I have lived in the Kendall area for the past 35 years,” Carvajal said. “We would never want to bring harm to our community. Allowing us this opportunity will also allow me to hire more employees and keep my businesses open.”

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