Huntley staff members are looking to set a monthslong moratorium on tobacco and smoke shops after concerns were raised during a recent board meeting over the level of control the village has on these businesses.
The moratorium, which will be up for consideration during the board’s Thursday meeting, would prevent the issuance of an occupancy permit or any other development approval or building permit for cigarette, smoke, cigar and vape shops until Jan. 24.
Village staff and the Huntley Plan Commission would spend that time reviewing existing uses and determining proper zoning classifications, regulations and review processes for these establishments, according to the resolution. The Village Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Huntley Municipal Complex, 10987 Main St.
Zach Porter, district manager of Wise Guys Vapes, 12392 Princeton Drive, said that he does not feel his vape shop is over-regulated and he has a good relationship with the village.
“We haven’t had a problem [with the village of Huntley], and I like to think it’s because we haven’t given them a reason,” Porter said.
During the board’s Sept. 27 meeting, it discussed how the number of shops that recently have opened in the village could be detrimental to new development.
Porter, however, said he has positive ties with neighboring businesses.
“I don’t want people to be afraid to open businesses next to a vape shop,” Porter said.
Huntley has three smoke shops within a mile of each other: Tobacco Hut, 10716 Route 47; Route 47 Smoke Shop, 10876 Route 47; and Best Price Tobacco and Gifts, 11717 Main St.
Huntley Director of Development Services Charles Nordman said there is no cap on the number of business licenses that can be issued for these shops.
Trustee Niko Kanakaris said during the meeting that he would like to see more control over things such as how signage looks. He also voiced concerns over stores that sell knives, a stance that was echoed by Mayor Charles Sass.
Hitesh Suchde, owner of Best Price Tobacco and Gifts, said his shop sells pocket knives but they are not something he markets. He also said no special licensing is required to sell the knives. Suchde recognized his positive relationship with the village and his neighbors.
“Everything works out good since we don’t sell any illegal stuff,” Suchde said.
Although local regulations may tweak the operations of area businesses, state and federal proposals could have a much greater impact to tobacco and vape retailers.
Although some cities, including Chicago, have passed the initiative at the local level, the Illinois legislature has tried for years to pass Tobacco 21 legislation, which would raise the purchasing age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products to 21 statewide.
The most recent incarnation, Senate Bill 2332, passed both chambers in May but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in August. To override the veto, the Senate must pick up one additional “yes” vote while the House must pick up 10 more votes.
Porter said that Tobacco 21 legislation would affect his business and he is more concerned about talks from the Food and Drug Administration to ban flavored e-cigarette and vaping products because of a strong increase in teens using such devices and products.
Suchde, however, said he supports Tobacco 21 legislation because he does not think it will make a huge difference to his sales and he doesn’t want to encourage teenagers to enter his store.