Township addresses smoke shops, body art studios

April 19, 2019

The Bloomfield Township Planning Commission on Monday, May 20, will hold a public hearing concerning a proposal to place special requirements on smoke shops, tobacco shops and body art facilities in the township.

The proposal would amend the township's zoning ordinance to require such shops be at least 750 feet from schools, places of worship, public parks, residential neighborhoods and other youth-orientated activities. The proposed amendment also would require a 1,000-foot setback between properties requiring special use approval in order to prevent a concentration of those uses in one geographical area.

The township already regulates similar uses, including massage parlors, pawnshops, secondhand dealers, precious metal and gem dealers and other shops and stores.

Bloomfield Township Deputy Director of Planning, Building and Ordinances Andrea Bibby said on Monday, April 15, at the township planning commission meeting that it has been recognized that such uses may have negative impacts on abutting properties as well as the public's health, safety and welfare.

The proposed amendment defines smoke shops and tobacco stores as those dedicated to the sale, distribution, delivery, offering, furnishing or marketing of tobacco, tobacco products and alternative nicotine products, as well as vapor products and tobacco paraphernalia and nicotine products. The amendment clarifies that stores that don't offer the sale of those products as a primary use would not be considered a regulated use, such as grocery stores, convenience stores and similar locations that sell tobacco ancillary to other merchandise.

Body art facility are those that primarily offer tattooing, body piercing, branding and scarification. The ordinance would exclude from special use regulation procedures that are considered medical by the state medical board or those affiliated with cosmetic surgery, hair or skin implants.

Commission members asked whether the amendment would differentiate jewelry stores or other beauty shops that offer ear piercing.

New commission member Andrea O'Donnell, who attended her first meeting on April 15, noted the proposed ordinance did specifically exclude ear piercing from being considered a regulated use.

Bibby said there is currently one such tobacco shop in operation in the township. The amendment would require future operations at that location to require approval. Properties that are unable to meet the requirements of the special use ordinance could request an exception from the township's Zoning Board of Appeals.

The commission voted unanimously to approve a public hearing on the matter at its regularly scheduled meeting on May 20.

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