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Springville City Council approves ordinance limiting smoke shops to industrial zone

By Connor Richards daily Herald - | May 18, 2021

The Springville City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve an ordinance amending city code to only allow the sale of specialty tobacco products in the city’s Light Industrial Manufacturing Zone.

A retailer is required to get a retail tobacco specialty business permit from the municipality it is located in if it sells any flavored electronic cigarette product, 20% or more of public retail floor and shelf space is allocated to display tobacco products or “the sales of tobacco products, electronic cigarette products and nicotine products account for more than 35% of the quarterly gross receipts for the establishment,” according to the Utah Department of Health.

The city council “requested planning staff look at areas of the City that would be more suitable for retail specialty tobacco sales to avoid the possibility of multiple stores in the City’s gateway zones,” Springville City Planner Laura Thompson wrote in a staff report.

The report noted that “under the current adopted Land Use Matrix, retail specialty tobacco sales fall under ‘General Retail,’ which allows them in all of the commercial zones pending they meet the State of Utah’s requirements.”

“The proposed amendment will list the use separately and allow them only in the L-IM Light Industrial Manufacturing Zone,” wrote Thompson.

The amendment states that the tobacco specialty business must be 1,000 feet away from another retail tobacco specialty business or a community location — including schools, churches, parks and recreation centers — as well as 1,000 feet away from a property zoned for agriculture or residential use.

During a Springville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Community Development Director Josh Yost said multiple residents had complained about a retail tobacco specialty business in the city. He also noted that the Springville Planning Commission gave a unanimous favorable recommendation to the amendment on April 27.

Springville has not previously implemented specific requirements for smoke and vape shops, according to Yost.

“They could be located wherever we have retail sales in the city,” he said.

Councilmember Liz Crandall said a citizen emailed her with concerns about the ordinance, including that it would increase competition between businesses.

Councilmember Craig Jensen expressed some hesitancy and said he was “nervous that it’s a knee-jerk reaction.”

Jensen asked whether other cities had implemented similar ordinances. Yost said they did not survey other cities so he didn’t know.

Jensen ultimately voted to approve the ordinance and noted that the policy is new territory for the south Utah County city.

“We’re talking about something that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” he said.

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