PC adopts restriction on standalone vehicle title lenders

In August of this year, the Chesterfield County Planning Commission was charged to change one of the policies for vehicle title lenders. The original section of the county policies stated only that AFIs or Alternative Financial Institutes (vehicle title lenders) be located one-mile apart.

When a LoanMax, one of the first AFIs to apply asked to locate in a former 7-Eleven, the location policy was reconsidered.

On April 10 this year, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved a new policy on AFIs. There had yet to be any sort of policy on the high-interest lenders before, and by state law the county had to develop a policy and rules for the businesses that wanted to locate in the county. County staff developed the policy and the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors approved it with no opposition.

The next month, the Planning Commission had four AFIs to consider at a public hearing all four AFIs were considered and passed with a single word from the public.

In June, the Board of Supervisors approved three of the four title lenders, which included a TitleMax now located at Breckenridge Shopping Center. Bermuda Supervisor and Board Chairman Dorothy Jaeckle deferred or continued the LoanMax application, a free standing, lender, but TitleMax to be located in the Bermuda District was approved. No one from the public spoke against the local AFIs.

In August the BOS sent the Planning Commission a directive to review the April 10 policy to address freestanding locations.

Last week the planning commission approved new verbiage in the policy, which limits the location of the lenders. Two citizens spoke in favor of the policy change. Only commissioner, Ruben Waller of Midlothian, without an explanation, voted not to accept the revised policy.  

The revised policy states:

“AFIs shall be located within a shopping center and within a building which is designed, constructed or repurposed for use and occupancy by three or more separate tenants.”
The new document defines the lenders as “provid[ing] short-term, high-interest personal-lending services. These institutions include: check cashing establishments (not including incidental check cashing), motor vehicle title lenders, pawnbrokers, payday lenders and other businesses with similar business models and land use impacts that are not specifically enumerated by the Zoning Ordinance, as determined by the Director of Planning. For the purposes of this policy, AFIs do not include banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, or precious metals dealers.”

The BOS will have to approve the new policy for it to become part of the county policy, but because the proposed new policy and the current case for a standalone AFI, involving the former 7-Eleven overlap, the new policy would not apply to the LoanMax case. (See “LoanMax withdraws application for AFI above”).

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