KETCHIKAN - A citizens' group has had enough with the proliferation of jewelry stores in downtown Ketchikan.
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The group, called Citizens for Ketchikan's Future, has come up with a proposed initiative to disperse the stores amid other types of businesses to encourage a less monotonous business environment.
The group has submitted an application with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough clerk.
Borough Clerk Harriett Edwards said Wednesday that her office was evaluating the group's initiative petition application to see whether it met all legal requirements. She has two weeks from Tuesday to make a decision.
If the application is approved, its 12 sponsors would need to collect 553 signatures from registered voters to get it on the October ballot.
The ordinance states that, "Proliferation of jewelry stores in Ketchikan's traditional downtown area has resulted in a monotonous retail atmosphere for local residents and visitors. The proposed ordinance would help intersperse jewelry stores with other types of businesses and encourage a broader array of retail opportunities in the community's downtown core."
The ordinance defines "jewelry stores" as retail establishments in which jewelry takes up more than 40 percent of the display area.
Larry Kubley, one of the petition sponsors and owner of the Sourdough Bar on Front Street, said Wednesday that the jewelry stores have in some ways benefited his business. Several bars across the street have shut down and sold out to jewelry stores, increasing his clientele, Kubley said.
However, he said, he still wants to limit jewelry stores to bring more variety to Ketchikan.
"I was born and raised here, and I'm tired of seeing what's happening downtown," he said.
Kubley said jewelry shops have driven up the rent in downtown, which makes it difficult for other businesses to make a profit.
Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce President Rob Skinner said the Chamber has not yet taken a position on the proposed initiative, but he personally would not sign a petition to restrict jewelry stores or any other kind of legitimate business.
"I'm pretty sure the chamber would never limit who can do business as long as they're a legal entity and serving the public," he said.
In the meantime, he said, visitors are buying high-priced jewelry and the community benefits through sales taxes.
"I don't understand why we hate jewelry stores so much," Skinner said.
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