Quick-cash stores focus of proposal

A proposed rule aimed at preventing new check-cashing stores from clustering near residential neighborhoods is expected to be approved by the Clark County Commission next week.

Commissioners will decide Wednesday whether to require a new check-cashing store to be at least 660 feet from another such store and at least 200 feet from a residence.

A cluster of quick-cash stores makes it easier to prey on those who are often too poor to have regular bank accounts and are living close to the financial edge, Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said.

“It takes advantage of the most vulnerable people,” Giunchigliani said.

The current rule requires at least 1,000 feet between a new check-cashing store and an existing one, and gives the owner a chance to request a waiver, said Nancy Lipski, a county planning manager.

County staff decided to recommend changing the rule to a 660-foot separation and allow no waivers as a compromise, Lipski said.

Jay Brown, an attorney representing check-cashing stores, argued that the waivers are essential.

“I don’t think the flexibility should be taken from the County Commission,” Brown said.

County officials drafted the proposed rule after some residents complained about too many of these stores cropping up near their homes, Commissioner Susan Brager said.

“The community — they really don’t want them in their backyard,” Brager said.

Brager, however, said the county should look carefully at imposing a no-waiver rule.

Commissioner Tom Collins said a few of the businesses are reputable, while others are sketchy.

“They’ve been described as worse than vultures,” Collins said.

“They are a last-resort kind of thing, and not all of them are the most principled outfits,” he said.

Given the limited resources to enforce codes, the county must curb the proliferation of these stores, Collins said.

The stores meet a need — perhaps for those who distrust banks — but offer no public service, Giunchigliani said.

You don’t want any type of business concentrated near a residential area, whether it’s check-cashing, fast food or liquor, Giunchigliani said. “Through clustering, you change a dynamic of a neighborhood.”

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or (702) 455-4519.

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