Residents of Calumet Heights continue fight to keep pawn shop out of area

After three continuances and a fourth hearing set for July 19, 2013 at 9 a.m. at the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals, residents of Calumet Heights will trek down to City Hall again in their fight to keep a pawn shop out of the area.

Residents of this middle- and upper middle class neighborhood have held weekly Saturday protest marches since January over disdain of a potential pawn shop setting-up shop at 2059-65 East 95th St., and to also inform other residents who may not know about the store owner’s intentions.

The three hearings scheduled and cancelled had been scheduled for February 15th, March 15th and May 17th.

Johnny Acoff, Vice President of the South Shore Gardens Betterment Association, a retired Chicago police officer and a resident of Calumet Heights, said “We don’t need that kind of business in our neighborhood. Yet, they want to bring it here in our area. Why not a referendum where citizens can say whether they want it or not? We have signatures already.

“What makes it so bad is that the hearing has been cancelled three times already. We don’t understand why they keep cancelling it. There’s got to be something wrong with having all these continuances. I think they want to wear us down, and when we don’t show up they’ll do it. But we will be at every hearing…we will be there. However, I hope it’s acted upon on July 19th,” Acoff added.

Not only have various groups and residents come together to halt the pawn shop from coming into the area, they have held several protest marches throughout the vicinity and at the site of the potential pawn shop.

“From my perspective and others, some pawn shops take in stolen properties that are burglarized from homes, garages and other places,” Acoff added. “You know, they do things so sneakingly; they try to shove things down your throat. And we refuse to let something be shoved down our throat without a fight…that’s disrespecting the area and residents’ wishes. They’ll have a fight on their hands because we will fight back. We don’t have a choice. If necessary, we will end up in court over this matter.”

Organizers are offering bus transportation ($5.00 round trip) for those wanting to attend the hearing. The bus will load in the parking lot of Our Lady Gate of Heaven Catholic Church, 2330 East 99th Street (99th & Crandon) at 7:15 a.m. The bus will leave promptly at 8:00 a.m.

Said Acoff: “We will continue picketing the potential pawn shop store every Saturday from 12 Noon to 2 p.m. until the Zoning Board rules against them. And we will be watching all elected officials from this area to see how they act toward deterioration in the area.”