- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Pat Morrissey campaigned for a Waterloo City Council seat last fall on a platform of cracking down on payday lenders.

Now, the Ward 3 councilman is following through.

Just two months into his first term, Morrissey is championing changes in the city zoning ordinance to limit where such businesses can be established, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (https://bit.ly/1lJ5ECW ).

Payday lenders offer short-term loans with high interest rates. Morrissey and other critics say such loan businesses take advantage of lower-income residents, who get trapped in an endless cycle of high-interest debt.

“I’m not here to kick any of those (existing lenders) out,” Morrissey said. “But any future expansion needs to be restricted, and this is one way of doing that.”

Morrissey’s proposed ordinance would not allow additional payday lenders or pawn shops to locate in downtown or shopping center districts. They could only locate in commercial district or manufacturing zones.

The businesses also could not open within 600 feet of each other, liquor stores or bars, or any of a long list of other “protected uses” in the city, like schools, hospitals, day care centers and homes.

The Waterloo Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission recently voted unanimously to endorse the ordinance changes. The full City Council is expected to consider them in early April.

City Planner Aric Schroeder said the proposed ordinance would “grandfather in” existing payday lenders and pawn shops, which would become legal nonconforming uses. Those businesses could be sold, but would lose their legal status if they closed for at least three consecutive months.

There were no objections during a public hearing on the proposed changes.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com

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