Westport Road shop owners fight plans for new pay day loan store

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some shop owners along Westport Road are upset over plans for a short term loan operation in their business district.

About 30 people from the West Plaza neighborhood turned out at a zoning hearing to fight against the pay day loan shop.

The West Plaza has been undergoing a rebirth in the last 10 years, with several upscale businesses making their home here.

Aimee Sanita doesn't think there's a market for short term loans in this area. The tax preparer and accountant believes a pay day lender might scare away her customers.

"I don't even know why they would think this was a good fit," Sanita said. "These houses in this neighborhood, most people make pretty decent money. I don't think they're looking for short term loans. So I really feel like it will draw people into this area that aren't normally in this area that have been denied from other short term loan places and they are moving on to a different type trying to find $500 or whatever."

Gretchen Miller, who owns a dog-grooming shop, is also worried that the pay day loan store might scare away her customers.

"My main concern is my clientele. I have a very upscale clientele, and they would not feel safe coming to my shop anymore because of the clientele that would bring, the loan store," Miller said. "And we just don't want it in the neighborhood. At all."

City ordinance prohibits short term lenders from opening within a mile of a similar business. With lenders nearby on Broadway and Main streets, Jason Marketing, doing business as Express Loan, would need a variance to establish a business on Westport Road.

The city's zoning board of appeals is considering the variance request. The next hearing is scheduled for February and West Plaza neighbors are promising an even larger turnout to oppose it.