A smoke shop at Raley’s Town Centre is a threat to families and children, and is not the right business for a future downtown — at least that’s the consensus from the Planning Commission — who unanimously rejected allowing a smoke shop to move into one of the shopping center’s vacancies Thursday night.

“I’d like to bring to commission’s attention that the proposed use is in the regional commercial district that allows for tobacco stores under our zoning ordinance by conditional approval,” said Marilyn Ponton, the city’s planning and building manager. “Therefore the proposed use is appropriate use at this location.”

The plans put the smoke shop, called Fair Haven Tobacco Store, in between Tonayan Mexican Restaurant, Advance America, a check cashing store and Kragen Auto Supply. The store proposed sell items such as sunglasses, lighters, rings, scales, grinders, vaporizers, candles, hookahs, tobacco, pipes and cigars.

The Commission wanted clarification on whether or not skateboards would be sold inside, or if tobacco paraphernalia would be displayed in front windows — both dangers to kids under 18, and a clear violation of the city’s municipal code, they said.

Ponton and business owners stressed that any pipes, grinders or vaporizers would be sold behind the counter, and that skateboards would not be sold at the proposed location.

“We approved one of these type of stores about a year ago,” Ponton said.

Rohnert Park currently has two tobacco stores, Holy Smokes at 6650 Commerce Blvd., behind McDonalds, and Discount Cigarettes, at 1451 Southwest Blvd., in University Square.

“While I support free enterprise and have voted for another tobacco store … it’s clearly a family center, with a clothing store, with a supermarket, with restaurants, with numerous other businesses that cater not only to families but to a large degree children,” said Commissioner John Borba. “It’s clearly not for smoking tobacco products.”

Commissioners David Armstrong, Gerard Giudice and Susan Haydon agreed. Susan Adams was out sick.

“This is not the type of business we want in our emerging downtown,” Haydon said. “It is the heart of the city, which is emerging with our library and public services and our very popular Farmers Market — this is becoming our central downtown; that is my main concern.”

“I’m not really that surprised,” said Tareq Airehani, the would-be store owner. “We’ll work on it.”

Giudice said he would vote in favor of the store, but in the end, vetoed it.

“I know a lot of people that smoke cigarettes, but scales, grinders, vaporizers … bongs … are not involved in the process,” he said. “I’m prepared to vote in favor of this, but as the director of SCAYD, as a community activist, as a Rotarian, I spend a lot of time and a lot of money helping to avert, to stop some of the blight that a lot of this stuff that you’re going to sell causes.”

“But I support free enterprise,” Giudice said.

Ponton said Airehani can veto the Commission's decision. The tobacco store proposal would then be taken to the City Council.

Note: Hilton article source.