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Avondale Estates City Commission temporarily prohibits smoke and vape shops

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Avondale Estates City Commission temporarily prohibits smoke and vape shops

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Photo obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.
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By Zoe Seiler, contributor

Avondale Estates, GA – The Avondale Estates City Commission at a special meeting on Nov. 25 placed a temporary prohibition on smoke and vape shops from opening in the city for at least six months.

The moratorium follows the approval of a conditional use permit for a tobacco and vape shop. The permit was approved at the regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 23, by a 3-2 vote.

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At the Nov. 23 meeting, the commissioners and mayor voiced their concerns about the shop opening and all acknowledged that it wasn’t their ideal small business to be opening in the city.

Fardeen Sayani plans to open the tobacco and vape shop at 2760 E. College Ave., between Jax Package and Stitch and Sew. He plans to sell CBD products, vape products and tobacco products such as cigarillos and raw products.

The resolution adopted Nov. 25 does not allow the city manager to issue any new business license to a smoke/vape shop and is effective immediately until May 31, 2021.

The city is currently rewriting its zoning code and expects to complete an overhaul of its land use and zoning regulations by May 31, 2021, the resolution states.

At the Nov. 18 work session, City Attorney Stephen Quinn said that moratoriums are allowed in the state. He said that they can be issued due to an oversaturation of a particular type of business or while a city is developing a new zoning and comprehensive plan and don’t want any development during that time.

City Manager Patrick Bryant said at the Nov. 18 work session that the City Commission cannot deny a conditional use permit based on desirability.

“Obviously I think we were all a little disappointed that we added another tobacco shop, basically, and at the last meeting. We have enough and I felt like this was an opportunity as we adjust our zoning over the next six months to be able to put a moratorium on that so we can have a more orderly discussion of whether we think we feel like that’s an appropriate business use in the city or not,” Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher said.

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There are four businesses in Avondale that sell tobacco and nicotine products, including Jax Package, and the City Commission “deems four such businesses to be more than adequate to meet any legitimate need for these products and that any additional such businesses would oversaturate the market and detract from the city’s plans for a well-balanced commercial district with a variety of services and products for sale,” the resolution says.

“For any use that the BOMC does not want, it would definitely be preferable to just exclude it versus the conditional use permit approach. Because what a conditional use permit does is tee up an individualized decision, which gives room for the disappointed applicant to say they’ve been discriminated against basically,” Quinn said at the Nov. 18 meeting.

Bryant said city staff will ask the board to discuss businesses they want to allow and not allow when they go through the process of adopting the zoning rewrite.

“I think until we get our zoning changed and get the uses we want in and the uses we don’t want out, this is a good interim measure,” Mayor Jonathan Elmore said.

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