A key Glen Cove planning board vote has moved the city a step closer to banning hookah lounges.
The panel on Tuesday unanimously approved recommending zoning code amendments that would add hookah lounges to the kinds of businesses that are prohibited in the city. The board's recommendation to the City Council was needed before the measure could come up for a council vote.
Some planning board members questioned why the zoning change was necessary because such uses, which are not permitted in the code, are already prohibited. But board members also wondered if a business owner could find a way around the code by adding hookah smoking to an existing permitted use.
Mayor Reginald Spinello, who has spearheaded the effort, said he understood that nonpermitted uses were already prohibited, but a hookah lounge ban would eliminate gray areas. "Being specific with this particular item is the right way to go," Spinello said.
He was pleased by the recommendation. "It's a health issue," Spinello said. "It's one of those things that for the youth I think it's something they can be vulnerable to."
Spinello said he expects the council to discuss the proposed amendments at a June 17 pre-council meeting and to hold a hearing at the June 24 council meeting.
The zoning change would define a hookah lounge as any establishment where the business includes smoking tobacco or other substances through a hookah pipe. Patchogue amended its zoning last year to prohibit hookah bars.
Last month, the Glen Cove city council toughened its regulations on electronic cigarettes.