Draft ordinance allowing gold dealers headed to Town Council

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Smithfield’s Planning Commission has recommended approval of a proposed zoning ordinance change that would allow businesses involved in the buying and selling of gold and jewelry.

The commissioners began discussing the draft language in October when Tammie Clary, Smithfield’s director of community development and planning, mentioned her staff had received an inquiry from a prospective dealer about setting up in town. The planners voted unanimously with Commissioner James Yoko absent to send the draft to Smithfield’s Town Council for approval after further discussing the matter on Nov. 14.

Smithfield presently doesn’t define precious metals dealers in its zoning ordinance, effectively imposing a town-wide ban by lacking any method for approving such a business. Town Attorney William Riddick told the commissioners last month that Smithfield cannot continue to impose its de facto ban on a business state law has deemed legal, but can limit where in town such businesses may operate.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The draft language proposing allowing precious metal dealers only by special use permit in the town’s highway retail commercial, planned shopping center, planned mixed-use development and light and heavy industrial districts. The changes further propose outright barring pawn brokers, payday lending and check cashing establishments from the town’s residential office and downtown districts.

In a change from the October draft, the version headed to the council no longer contains a definition for “secondhand dealers.”

The stricken language would have defined secondhand dealers as any business engaged in the buying, selling or exchanging of “personal property” that had been “previously owned or used.” Several commissioners deemed the language overly broad, contending it would have the unintended consequence of requiring Smithfield’s numerous antique shops on Main Street to go through the process of obtaining a special use permit.

According to Tammie Clary, the town’s director of community development and planning, the intent behind the “secondhand dealer” language had been to restrict businesses such as GameStop, which deals in pre-owned video games.