Ogden City squeezes smoke shop locations

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 9:00 AM

Mitch Shaw, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Finding a smoke shop in Ogden might soon become like finding a needle in a haystack.

The Ogden City Council voted unanimously this week to approve a resolution that calls for tighter restrictions on where a smoke shop can be placed within the city.

According to the resolution, smoke shops, or tobacco specialty shops as they are sometimes called, must have a minimum separation distance of at least 1,000 feet from any school, church, public playground, park, youth center, arcade or recreational facility.

The shops must also be at least 600 feet from any other smoke shops or areas zoned for agricultural or residential use.

The separation and distance standard was actually established in the Utah State Code with legislation passed in 2012.

City Planning Manager Greg Montgomery said the inclusion of the standard in the city’s code simply adds the state code language for clarification and research purposes.

Montgomery said adding state code language to the city’s code will also allow potential retail tobacco specialty business owners to more easily identify the standards.

But the state statute does not identify which zones are appropriate for the smoke shops, other than to exclude the residential and agricultural zones.

As part of the new city ordinance, the city has included zoning restrictions that are exclusive only to Ogden.

In addition to the residential and agricultural zones, which are already restricted by state law, the shops now are not allowed in Ogden at airport zones, central business districts, and most manufacturing commercial zones.

The shops will be permitted in some manufacturing zones along 1900 West and 2550 South and as a conditional use in some commercial zones, but based on adjacent incompatible uses or other existing tobacco shops, the only commercial zone in the city that could support a new retail tobacco specialty business is a small area near the Newgate Mall.

As a result of the state law and the city’s new zoning restrictions, the actual physical space that smoke shops can legally occupy within the city has dwindled to almost nothing.

“I just kind of feel like all the laws being made with the smoking stuff is overkill,” said Tyler Rose, who purchased tobacco Friday at Smokers Etc., 1019 Washington Blvd. “It’s like everybody wants to push us out by any means necessary.”

Jay Parker shopped at Smokin’ Hot, 314 Washington Blvd., on Friday and said he also feels that the restrictions on smoke shops are unnecessary.

“It’s crazy that they have all these restrictions in place,” he said. “It’s up to the shop to follow the laws and if they do that, there shouldn’t be a problem no matter where they’re located. You can’t shelter people from every little thing they might not like.”

One local smoker had a different view.

“Cigarettes, tobacco — it’s bad for you,” said Ali Diaz, who purchased cigarettes at Smokin’ Hot. “I only come in here because I’m addicted. I want to quit and I’ve cut down to just three (cigarettes) a day. I think the harder you make it to get, the less people will do it.”

Smoke shops in operation prior to May 9, 2012 that don’t meet the distance requirements may continue to operate as a nonconforming use unless they stop operating as a smoke shop for a period of 60 days or more.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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