Alternative financial service providers in the city of Opelika will be subject to new regulations, pending the approval of an zoning amendment on Tuesday's city council agenda.
Businesses that provide payday or title loans, non-bank check cashing and even pawnshops would be included under the proposed amendment. These businesses are usually found in low-income neighborhoods, according to the city's zoning commission.
Mayor Gary Fuller said that while he understands establishments like these may be the only option for some individuals, the interest rates added to what they pay back are too high.
“In many instances,” he said, “they take advantage of people and people get caught in that trap.”
The proposed zoning amendments mandate that two alternative financial service providers can’t be within 2,500 feet of the other. They would be otherwise prohibited “unless the proposed use is located more than 200 feet of any property used primarily for a single-family residence.”
The planning commission report noted that there are “well over a dozen” alternative financial service providers in Opelika. The high-interest fees and penalties tied to them can surpass the initial amount borrowed, even while offering brief financial relief for users.
Also on Tuesday's agenda:
» A contract with Leadership Empowerment Strategies, LLC for Diversity and Cultural Inclusion Initiative;
» An application for the 2020 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) for the Opelika Police Department;
» Community Development Block Grant action plan for the 2020 fiscal year.
The city council will meet in a work session at 6:50 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the city's new Municipal Court chambers, 300 Martin Luther King Blvd.
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