Pawn shop opening near school raises questions

The Barnwell City Council members heard from Lawrence Blackwood, the owner of a newly opened pawn shop in Barnwell during the public comments portion of the July regular council meeting.

Blackwood has already been issued a city business license and has obtained his state pawn brokers license, he said.

Mayor Edward Lemon said he had received several phone calls including one from a school board member with concern over the proximity of the pawn shop to the school.

Sliver Dollar Pawn is located on Marlboro Avenue across the street from the Barnwell Primary School.

No one appeared at the council meeting to voice their concerns, however.

Ricky Renew, a former Barnwell pawn shop owner, said he was at the meeting because he was supporting Blackwood and because of his former experience with pawn shops.

Blackwood said he had heard there were concerns over his shop's location.

"At a pawn shop, you expect weapons to be sold," along with gold and other items, said Blackwood.

Blackwood said currently he is not selling firearms in his shop but has applied for a Federal Firearms License to sell them in the future.

"Ammunition will not be sold or brought into the store," Blackwood said.

Each gun would also have a trigger lock installed, he said.

Lemon recommended to council that they have Tom Boulware, the city attorney, draft a letter to the Attorney General to make sure there are no legal issues that would prohibit a pawn shop from selling guns within such a close proximity to a school.

In other council news:

City administrator John Zawacki recommended the city attorney research how the city can re-annex the land owned by Milliken into the city.

Zawacki said Milliken will begin demolition on their building in the latter part of August. After which, they intend on planting pine trees on the property, he said.

In 1954 the city de-annexed the property for Ameratron, a total of over 300 acres, in lieu of the jobs being created.

Zawacki said currently no city zoning or land development regulations can currently be enforced on the property.

Zawacki also said the force main work on Galilee Road and Main Street will continue in the next two weeks and should be complete by August.

Emily Randell, the city parks and recreation director informed council that her department had received word that a grant totaling $60,725 should be approved in August for the Fuller Park trail project.

Police chief Todd Gantt said his office is participating in a new program aimed at providing crime information to residents. Residents can log onto www.crimereports.com, enter their address and see what types of crimes have occurred in their neighborhood as well as see where registered sex offenders live in proximity to their homes.

Gantt said a newly passed crime bill has several changes that will impact his office.

Gantt said the limits of what crimes will now be held through municipal court have changed which will increase the number of cases the municipal court would hear.

He said the assault charges have also changed and now the state has an attempted murder charge available.

Councilman J. T. Atkinson provided council with a drawing of proposed handicap parking places at Lemon Park.

He said the park will now have 10 handicap spaces on Park Street that will allow for regular car handicap parking as well as handicap vans and lifts to be used. The area will also be paved.

Council accepted a bid from Carroll and Carroll, Inc. for $6,840 for the parking lot area work.

Lynn Cox, the city tourism and community development director was granted permission to hold a contest for residents to name the new city water front park located on Wellington Street.

After exiting an executive session, Zawacki recommended a contract be issued to England Enterprises to provide the city with building inspection services. The contract will include residential inspections as well as commercial inspections, Zawacki said.

"It's going to be good for Barnwell," he said.

Council approved a request from John and Sally Smith to donate .089 acre of land to the city. The land adjoins the city parking lot and is currently fenced in Zawacki said.

Future uses of the land could include additional parking spaces, he said.