Tempe maintains stance against hookah lounge - East Valley Tribune: News

Tempe maintains stance against hookah lounge

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Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2008 11:14 pm | Updated: 11:32 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The owner of a Tempe hookah lounge cannot allow smoking in his establishment, the City Council reaffirmed on Thursday night.

Tempe hookah lounge owner requests relief

Anis Ben Harzallah was hoping the council would reconsider its recent decision against allowing a change to the use permit of HB Tobacco, 53 E. Broadway Road.

An alteration was necessary because it allows only the sale of tobacco but not smoking. But once again, Harzallah ran into a unanimous decision against him.

It was a vote Mayor Hugh Hallman made with a tinge of regret.

“I hate this case,” Hallman told Harzallah’s attorneys, “because I like your client.”

The mayor went on to praise Harzallah for investing in his business.

Harzallah is considering moving his business. Two weeks ago, he went before a city hearing officer to get permission for a hookah lounge at 1400 S. McClintock Drive.

HB Tobacco’s appeal hinged upon the legal argument that the council’s reasoning at its Sept. 11 meeting was not adequately discussed in public.

But that argument went nowhere, with Hallman pointing out that the council agenda — which contained the facts upon which the council ruled — is a public document.

Also rejected was the claim of hardship.

Harzallah planned on appealing the earlier decision with the city and Maricopa County Superior Court. But Speiss said the new location might need $4,000 worth of renovations to meet city standards on air quality.

Harzallah “doesn’t know whether he’ll be in business in the future,” Speiss said.

Harzallah ran into trouble earlier this year after a neighborhood association complained.

A hearing officer and the Development Review Commission agreed that Harzallah’s mistakes were minor enough that he deserved an amended permit.

But the council has now disagreed twice.

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