Hornell keeps wary eye on new hookah shop

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Thursday, June 7, 2012 | Andrew Poole | Categories:
Hornell, N.Y. — Hookahs are now for sale in Hornell. City officials said Tuesday there’s little they can do at this point regarding the opening of the Hornell Hookah and Smoke Shop at 976 State Route 36, aside from making sure the store doesn’t sell anything illegal. “I’m not pleased with it,” said police Chief Ted Murray. “As a police agency fighting drugs, it’s kind of counter-productive to have a store like that in town.” According to a business card from the store, items such as tobacco products, water and glass pipes and candy are sold in the shop. But the store also sells items such as synthetic urine for fighting drug tests, crack pipes, scales and grinders — items compatible with the use of narcotics, said Murray. “I guess you could use them for smoking other substances that are legal, but I haven’t seen them used for anything other than that,” he said. Speaking with the Tribune on Wednesday, store owner Jehad Mustafa said he would remove items such as crack pipes, synthetic urine, scales and grinders and sell them at store locations in larger cities. The store will focus on tobacco products, said Mustafa, and will have signs saying that items such as glass pipes are for tobacco use only. While nothing can stop the store from operating, police can monitor the shop to prevent the sale of items such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts. Murray said he’s spoken with the owner, who has said he would comply with the laws regarding those products. The shop owner confirmed he wouldn’t sell products such as synthetic marijuana. “I know the concern, the community and the police concern about synthetic marijuana and K2 or whatever. I’m absolutely not going to sell or carry it. I’ll never have anything to do with it,” said Mustafa. Mayor Shawn Hogan said the shop would be “under strong surveillance. “It’s just we don’t want them to be selling bath salts and synthetic marijuana. The state has regulated synthetic marijuana, but no one has moved in the state to ban bath salts. That’s what we’re concerned about.” The city’s zoning laws are also powerless as currently written. Hogan said such laws could be changed to prevent similar businesses from moving into the city in the future, but a change can’t be applied to the shop retroactively. “We can regulate certain businesses to certain areas by zoning,” said Hogan. “In this instance, the horse is out of the barn. For future reference we can do that. You don’t want to restrict business unnecessarily if you don’t have to.” Hogan said zoning laws already prohibiting tattoo parlors and relegating stores selling pornographic materials to industrially-zoned areas are already on the books.
The Evening Tribune
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