Pawn America's lawsuit against St. Louis Park has been dismissed.
The Burnsville-based chain had challenged the city's temporary ban on pawnshops, which quickly led to new rules restricting them -- rules that prevented the company from opening one it had planned for Excelsior Boulevard.
In an 11-page judgment, Hennepin County Judge Denise Reilly found that St. Louis Park's actions to temporarily ban, study and then restrict pawnshops were "not arbitrary or capricious."
"Merely adopting an interim ordinance after such a proposal does not ... mean that the ordinance is arbitrarily enacted to delay or prevent the proposed project," she wrote. "The Court agrees with the City that the interim ordinance was validly enacted ... ."
Pawn America took the city to court in October, trying to block it from enforcing a nine-month ban on pawnshops. The council approved the moratorium after learning of Pawn America's intent to open a shop, so that the city could study the lending businesses' locations, licensing and effect on public perception.
Throughout the case, Pawn America had argued that St. Louis Park's moratorium was aimed at preventing a particular project -- its own. In a May court document, Pawn America's attorney called the idea that a city could do so "preposterous."
"If a court were to accept the City's argument, municipalities would suddenly have carte blanche to stop any project for any reason, or for no reason at all, even where the project complies with the city's zoning code," wrote Carolyn Wolski, attorney for Pawn America.
But Judge Reilly pointed to a 1995 case in which the Court of Appeals held that "preserving the status quo pending further study of zoning constitutes good faith."
Fights over moratoriums, also known as interim ordinances, erupt "rarely," said Paul Merwin, senior land-use attorney for the League of Minnesota Cities. But when they do, the disputing party often claims that it's being unfairly targeted, he said.
Pawn America has not decided whether it will appeal the decision, said Todd Phelps, a Minneapolis attorney representing the company.
Since spring, Pawn America has been operating a second-hand store and a Payday America at the site where it originally had planned to open the pawnshop. People cannot pawn goods at the store, however.
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168