NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A vape shop is going into the Park Hill neighborhood in North Little Rock and some business owners and people in the neighborhood are not happy about it.
About 10 years ago, the city’s Overlay Ordinance was written, discouraging tobacco shops from opening in the area. Under that ordinance, it does not include vape shops.
As cars drive down John F. Kennedy Blvd in the Park Hill Area of North Little Rock, you may see businesses of all kinds.
From long-time businesses like Angry Dave’s Bicycle Shop, and newer places like V-I-P Smoke Shop.
“It’s pretty unanimous pretty much across the board that this is not a business we are interested in having up here,” owner of Angry Dave’s Bicycles, David Larson said.
I tried contacting the owner of V-I-P Smoke Shop to find out what exactly this new business is all about, and what exactly they plan to sell.
I was unable to speak with him.
“Park Hill is a neat place; we should be a destination location,” said Larson.
For David Larson, who is a part of the neighborhood association, they want the area to be a more family-friendly atmosphere.
“That’s what the business merchants is looking for, and why we did the overlay plan 10 years ago,” stated Larson.
In the ordinance, you can see tobacco shops have the letter “C” next to it.
So that means they would have to apply for a variance for the city to approve their shop coming in.
“To watch it not be enforced is just frustrating,” said Larson.
North Little Rock City Attorney, Amy Fields, said tobacco stores and vape shops are different type of businesses and based on the current ordinance, she couldn’t legally deny V-I-P Smoke Shop’s application.
In a statement Fields said, “….when these types of stores started popping up, if it had occurred to the area stakeholders that this was something that needed to be addressed, we could have amended the ordinance proactively. Unfortunately, that did not occur until after the vape shop owner applied for a zoning certificate and business license”.
Saturday the neighborhood association will be hosting a meeting with city officials, where they hope to make changes can be made to the ordinance, to prevent this from happening again.