CALDWELL — The decision to move payday loan businesses from Caldwell’s commercial zones may be made at the next City Council meeting, Planning and Zoning Director Brian Billingsley said.

The Council met Monday, but needs more time to make their decision, Billingsley said.

“(The Council members) listened to all the testimonies … they didn’t really reveal their hand,” Billingsley said. “I think they’re keeping all options open.”

He estimated about 20 people testified at Monday’s public hearing. About half the testimony was in favor of pushing the lending institutions to industrial zones. The Idaho Community Action Network is one group in favor of the ordinance. Its members believe the businesses prey on minorities, the elderly and low-income groups. Payday loan centers use high interest rates and, as a result, some borrowers find themselves in insurmountable debt after using the service.

The ordinance would not apply to existing payday loan businesses, but new ones would be forced to set up shop outside commercial zones.

Council President Jim Blacker previously told the Idaho Press-Tribune he has “mixed emotions” about the issue.

“It’s tough to control businesses, so that’s problematic,” Blacker said. “It’s a difficult business to be in, because of people that could easily be taken advantage of, so to speak.”

In past years, Blacker said, similar ordinances have driven business out of specific zones. For example, an adult bookstore closed because an ordinance pushed it to the outskirts of town. People didn’t frequent the store because it was too far away.

Still though, Blacker understands that type of business does provide a service.

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