LOWVILLE — A change to the village’s zoning law was approved Wednesday, limiting the number and locations of smoke shops and tobacco stores allowed in the municipality.
Two smoke shops have opened on State Street in the middle of the village since June of last year, causing village leadership to change the zoning rules.
“One of the problems is that those shops are too close to the school,” said Mayor Joseph Beagle. “They’re not supposed to be in those shops unless they’re 18, but who knows.”
Under the new addition to the zoning law, any future shops will only be allowed in “auto commercial zone” areas that consist of six areas of varying sizes to the south and east of the village center.
Because the rule states future shops must be more than 1,500 feet from schools, family day care homes, child care facilities, any youth or community center, recreational facilities, parks, churches or other religious institutions, the hospital or “other similar uses where children regularly gather,” even some of the “auto commercial zone” areas will be off limits.
Both of the current shops would not have been approved under the new law because they are just over 1,000 feet from the school.
“The shops that are already there, they’re basically grandfathered,” the mayor said. “If they move out and close then they can’t come back in. Basically it’s just moving shops out of the village center zone and they’d be away from the school.”
The law will allow only one of this type of shop per 3,000 village residents.
According to the 2020 Census, there are 3,233 people living in the village, making it impossible for any new smoke shops to open until one of the existing two closes.
Gurpreet Singh, who opened Smokers Corner in June 2020 after graduating from Clarkson University, said as long as he is not forced to move his shop, he is fine with the new rules and doesn’t foresee many other people trying to open smoke shops.
“Business is already slow, so even if more people come in, they’re not going to get anything out of it,” he said.
Mr. Singh said that while business during the summer months was good, he expects that the winter will be about “breaking even” again this year. He is in the process of creating an online sales presence to overcome the limitations of a brick and mortar shop.
The village board voted in July to prohibit cannabis stores or dispensaries within village limits.
No one spoke at the public hearing on the zoning law addendum held on Wednesday afternoon before the village board’s monthly meeting, and the change was unanimously approved.