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<p>NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans City Council is moving toward restricting expansion of check cashers in certain residential areas and strip malls. By a 5-0 vote, the Council passed a zoning petition prohibiting new check cashing facilities in an area zoned residential or in “neighborhood business districts.” Sponsors of the petition described certain areas of the city as “challenged” and in need of protection. The zoning rule does not apply to existing check cashers and differentiates between check cashers and traditional financial institutions. The new rule, which still must be adopted in ordinance form, applies only to residential and nearby commercial areas primarily in the Westbank section of the city near the Intercoastal Waterway. “We are pleased with the petition since it does limit expansion of the check cashing facilities in low income areas where residents find themselves subject to predatory lending practices,” said Mark Rosa, president of the $35 million NOME Federal Credit Union. Rosa noted the steady growth of the check facilities “and those rent to own places” in many areas of the city. “In the four miles from my office to my home, there must be half a dozen of the check facilities that have sprung up,” he said.</p>

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