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  • Writer's pictureCenter for Local Policy Analysis (CLPA)

Understanding CB-028-2024: The Cigar Lounge Bill (Prince George's County Council)

A new bill, CB-028-2024, has recently been introduced in the Prince George's County Council and is stirring discussions among residents, business owners, and local lawmakers. This bill proposes changes to how cigar lounges and clubs can operate within the county. Let's review the details of this bill to understand its implications, history, supporters, opponents, and current standing in the legislative process.



What Does CB-028-2024 Propose?


CB-028-2024 is a zoning bill presented by Council Member Hawkins to regulate cigar lounges and clubs in Prince George's County. The bill would define a "Cigar Club/Lounge" as an establishment primarily for the sale and on-site use of premium tobacco products, potentially including food and alcohol but excluding adult entertainment.


It proposes to allow these establishments in specific commercial zones: CN (Commercial, Neighborhood), CS (Commercial, Service), and CGO (Commercial, General, and Office).

The bill also lays out regulations to ensure these businesses operate in a manner that respects public safety, health, and welfare. For example, cigar clubs/lounges must be 300 feet (0.057 miles) away from schools, libraries, parks, recreational facilities, and historic sites. It prohibits them from within 2,000 feet (0.38 miles) of another cigar club/lounge.


The History of CB-028-2024


The proposal for CB-028-2024 came from the need to clarify and regulate the operation of cigar lounges and clubs within the county's commercial zones. Currently, such establishments are not explicitly defined in the county's zoning ordinance; CB-028-2024 was introduced to provide clear guidelines and regulations.


Supporters and Opponents


CB-028-2024 has gathered attention from various community stakeholders. Supporters argue that it would provide a legal framework for the operation of cigar lounges/clubs, potentially boosting local business and providing a controlled environment for tobacco product consumption. Opponents, however, are concerned about the health implications of promoting tobacco use and the potential nuisance these establishments might cause in residential neighborhoods.


Recommendations and Legislative Process


The Prince George's County Planning Board conducted a public hearing before CB-028-2024's first reading in the Council and prepared a technical staff report. While the Planning Board did not take a definitive position on the bill, it highlighted several drafting errors and inconsistencies in the original proposal. It recommended amendments to align it with the current zoning ordinance.


CB-028-2024 is undergoing revisions to address these concerns, with an alternate version of the bill proposed to correct technical and drafting issues. The bill was just presented to the Council, so it is still early in the legislative process. It is in the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) committee, where it will be debated and amended before its potential introduction to the Council.


Impact on County Residents


If passed, CB-028-2024 will have various effects on the residents and business owners of Prince George's County. The bill could allow business owners to legally establish and operate cigar lounges/clubs, potentially driving economic growth and creating new jobs. For residents, especially those living near commercial zones, the bill raises questions about the potential increase in tobacco use and its associated health risks, as well as concerns about noise, public nuisance, and housing prices. Additionally, the bill's strict zoning regulations mean that not every area will be eligible for hosting a cigar lounge or club, which could limit where these businesses can operate and influence real estate dynamics in the county.


What all of this means


CB-028-2024 represents a significant step in defining and regulating the operation of cigar lounges and clubs in Prince George's County. While it aims to provide a clear legal framework for these establishments, it also raises important questions about health, community welfare, and local business development. As the bill moves through the legislative process, it will be crucial for all stakeholders to engage in the discussion to ensure that the final legislation balances business interests with public health and community well-being. The ongoing dialogue around CB-028-2024 highlights the importance of community involvement in local governance and the impact of zoning laws on the fabric of our neighborhoods.

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