Local

McHenry places restrictions on future vape shops

Future retailers only will be allowed in highway commercial district

A man uses a vaping apparatus on June 26 in Elgin.
A man uses a vaping apparatus on June 26 in Elgin.

The McHenry City Council has lifted its moratorium on vape shops and placed restrictions on where the businesses can operate.

Moving forward, vape shops can only open in the C-5, highway commercial, zoning district. The stores must be 1,000 feet from other vape shops, schools and child care or child recreation facilities. The businesses must maintain a tobacco license to operate, which is already required.

McHenry is home to five vape shops and many other businesses such as gas stations sell electronic cigarettes or other vape accessories. Those will all be allowed to continue to operate.

Businesses in all commercial districts may sell vaping products as long as the business has a tobacco license and the sale of vaping products aren’t the store’s main purpose. Vaping product display and storage at these businesses must be limited to 200 square-feet or 2% of the gross floor area, whichever is less.

The new ordinance places tighter restrictions on the placement of vape shops than the city has for recreational marijuana businesses, which are allowed in three different zoning districts. Marijuana businesses must apply for a conditional use permit to operate and there can only be two in the city, however.

City Council members placed a moratorium on vape shops in March with the intent of tightening regulations on the businesses. McHenry’s law enforcement has expressed concerns about vaping among teenagers in the community and in the schools.

The police work with McHenry School Districts 15 and 156 to educate students and parents about the potential danger of using vape products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called youth e-cigarette use an epidemic, estimating that teen vaping has increased by more than 75% from 2017 to 2018 to reach an estimated
3.6 million middle and high school students.

McHenry’s approach is similar to what the village of Huntley did in June.

Huntley reduced the number of permitted zoning districts in which tobacco and vape retailers can operate from six to one.

The Huntley board also set a minimum distance between any two tobacco and vape shops at 1,000 feet. The distance between a shop and any premises used primarily as a school, child care facility or for the education or recreation of children younger than 18 also is 1,000 feet.

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