Possible change to some Chesterfield business permits

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Chesterfield County hands out certain business permits based on objective things like a background check. Then there's the subjective requirement: whether a person has good moral character. A number of courts are now ruling that is unconstitutional.

It took a lot more than tools and guitars to get Robb Carroll's pawn shop up and running. Every six months, for the last decade, he's had to apply and been approved for a police permit. The golden ticket requires a background check and a look at Robb's character. It must be good, moral and up to the police chief's standard.

"Its part of the checks and balances," said Carroll. "More often you have to renew so they can keep a check of how you're conducting business, which I think is probably a good thing."

Pawnshops, fortune tellers, massage parlors, adult businesses and nightclubs must all roll through this process. But state and federal courts ruled the "character standard" is unconstitutional. The county attorney is now moving for the requirement to be stricken from the books.

While Mel's Pawn Shop sees the need for the change, just down the road in Chesterfield County, Priscilla McCalls says striking good character from the books could cause some bad effects. Priscilla McCalls worries no evaluation of character could lead to shady business owners opening their doors.

"Can't see how you can judge someone's moral character without knowing them," said Kevin Brown, a resident of Metro-Richmond. "You can't say this is immoral just because you don't like the nature of the business, like a massage parlor."

The change to the police permit process will be up for discussion during Chesterfield County's Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, February 24. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the public meeting room located at the Government Complex off of Iron Bridge Road.

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