Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bristol Zoning Board continues application for Countrywide Gold Buyers to May

The Bristol Zoning Board has continued the application
of the chain store, Countrywide Gold Buyer and Gallery,
until their MAY 2 meeting.

If a vote had been taken at last night's (Monday, March 7, 2011) Bristol Zoning Board meeting, chances are Mr. Luis Junco, co-owner and applicant for Countrywide Gold Buyer and Gallery, would probably have been denied a 'special use permit' to open his formula business in downtown Bristol at 450 Hope Street. After more than an hour and a half of discussion and questions, a unanimous vote was taken to continue his application until May while the Historic District Commission (HDC) had time to complete their review. (They are planning a site visit to observe the interior decor and planned window signs.) Edward Stuart, Zoning Board member, pointed out that Zoning Board regulations stated that a "Certificate of Appropriateness" was needed from the HDC before the Zoning Board was clear to vote on a 'special use permit'.

Apart from the need for the HDC Certificate of Appropriateness, Zoning Board member and RWU Law professor, Bruce Kogan, said he had "grave reservations" about granting a 'special use permit' to Countrywide Gold Buyers and Gallery and wanted more time to consider his decision. Prof. Kogan asked many questions of the applicant. Here is a sampling of what he asked:

• How many customers a day do you have?
ANSWER: Five on average

• Why do you plan to locate stores both in Bristol and in Warren when they are only a few miles apart?
Warren already has 2 or 3 established gold buyer stores.
ANSWER: In the Cranston RI area where Mr. Junco lives, he has 3 stores within a three mile radius and he stated they all did well and served different customers. He thought if it works in Cranston, then why shouldn't it work in the Bristol-Warren area.
(The Warren store opened two weeks ago. His first store opened in May 2008 in the Warwick Mall.)

• What will you do if the economy improves, the price of gold goes down and your customers evaporate?
ANSWER: I don't know what I'd do. I may switch and become a jewelry store.

• Who makes the sculpture that you plan on selling and what is it made of?
ANSWER: It is made of recycled car and bike parts and made by family members of his business partner in Miami FLA.

Prof. Kogan explained that Bristol's Formula Business Ordinance does not prevent formula businesses from coming into Bristol's Historic
District. What the ordinance does is regulate formula businesses within the historic district. One of the standards of the ordinance notes that a formula business needs "to contribute to an appropriate blend of businesses" and that the formula business "compliment other businesses in the historic district". He than asked:
Is this cash for gold business a negative influence?
Does it complement other businesses?
Is it appropriate being next to a TOY store?
Will the store suck local dollars out of the town and deposit them in a central repository outside of Bristol?
Is this business taking advantage of people down on their luck?

Assistant Bristol Town Solicitor, Paul Ryan, then stated that the Bristol Formula Business ordinance runs "head to head with interstate commerce regulations. If a formula business is deemed inappropriate - specific detailed reasons why it is inappropriate need to be carefully stated."

The owners of three local galleries spoke against Mr. Junco's application. They were Denise Zompa, Nancy Pritchard and
Anita Trezvant. Owners of The Bagel Shop and Coggeshall Jewelers were in the audience.

The next Zoning meeting is April 4. The next HDC meeting is April 7. This application will be heard again at the May 2 Zoning Meeting. Zoning Board members in attendance last night were:
Edward Stuart, William Josephs, Bill McMullen, Bruce Kogan and David Raposa

To read a related article from Patch go to:

And an earlier related article on this blog from Feb 9 go to:


Anonymous said...

So why does Bristol need one of his (junk) stores? Let him take it to Gooding Plaza or better yet, up to Metacom!

Anonymous said...

Just another example on how government is choking the life out of free enterprise. Not only does the shop owner suffer but so do the landlords and tax revenues that could be received. Empty stores place a larger burden on the residential taxpayers of the area. If this committee denies any applications, then they should be responsible for paying the rents of the empty stores in the area. Apparently Bristol must not be getting the tax increases that the rest of the state has and does not need any new businesses in the area.