Layton considers limiting smoke shops

Nov 21 2011 - 2:49pm

LAYTON -- What exactly are smoke shops selling?

That's what members of Layton's Planning Commission are wondering, so they asked the city council to not allow similar businesses to open in the city for the next six months.

During that time, the city's planning staff will make a careful review of the smoke shops. Then they will suggest to the council appropriate regulations that will address any potential negative impacts of these businesses to the community.

"I don't know if they will outright ban them, put some restrictions on them or not restrict them at all," said City Attorney Gary Crane. "Those are the three options."

Crane said there are five "smoke shops" or "hookah stores" within city limits, and they have caused city officials to become concerned.

These businesses typically sell tobacco products, but smoke shops in Utah have also become involved in the sale of other products and paraphernalia that are expressly prohibited by state law and local ordinances.

Mayor Steve Curtis said the smoke shops are not out of compliance, unless they are selling things they are not set up to sell.

"If the smoke shops are providing paraphernalia that enhance the use of drugs than that is a value this community doesn't believe in," Curtis said. "Plus, drugs are illegal."

Crane said city officials are also concerned that some smoke shops may be selling spice, a banned substance. Spice products are often disguised as incense and bath salts, but are often smoked or inhaled to produce a marijuana-like high.

Crane said city officials will also look at the location of smoke shops and determine if there needs to be an ordinance limiting where the businesses could be.

"Certainly anything to do with minors and schools would probably be the items they would look at to see if this is an appropriate place for these shops," Crane said.

Section 10-9a-504 of the Utah Code allows the legislative body of a municipality to enact an ordinance establishing a temporary land use regulation for the city.

In March, Layton adopted an ordinance that put in restrictions for payday loan shops, such as how many can be in the city and the distance needed between each business that falls in that category.

Crane said the city has also had similar ordinances regarding sexually-orientated businesses, pawn shops and firework stands.

Layton is not the only city to look closely at smoke shops. In 2010, Roy put in a permanent ordinance regulating that smoke shops could be located only in regional commercial zoning areas and could be no closer than 600 feet apart.

"So we limited the number of smoke shops with the ordinance," said Roy Mayor Joe Ritchie. "When it comes to the product they sell, they're closely monitored by zoning people and the police department."

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