Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 27, 2014

Hookah lounge snuffed out

Building inspector says zoning does not support use

By Dustin Luca
dluca@andovertownsman.com

---- — A proposed hookah lounge will not be setting up shop in town any time soon.

Building Inspector Chris Clemente has denied Lux Hookah Lounge’s application to open its second social lounge at 63 Park St., one block off Main Street in the heart of downtown.

Clemente said he rejected the business certificate application for the lounge and tobacco retailer based on the site’s current zoning.

He said the applicants, Maryanne Nagle and Bahaa Dalloul of Fig and Lux, LLC, were unable to provide a clear answer on what their intended use of the property would be.

“They said, ‘We’re going to serve food.’ ‘No, we’re not going to serve food,’” Clemente said. “I couldn’t get a straight answer. It really didn’t fit into any one specific use in the zoning table.”

The proposed site, also home to Domino’s Pizza, a women’s clothing shop and some professional offices, is zoned as “general business,” according to Clemente.

The zoning “basically says unless it is specifically allowed, it is prohibited,” he said.

Clemente said there is currently no location in town where the proposed lounge could operate unless the applicants narrow their use.

The business has the right to appeal Clemente’s decision to the Zoning Board of Adjustment either for a variance or “as aggrieved by my interpretation,” he said.

Nagle did not return a call for comment. She and Dalloul own Lux Hookah Lounge in Plymouth, which they opened in May 2012. Andover would have been their second site.

Health Director Tom Carbone said he had placed an administrative decision from his office on hold pending Clemente’s ruling. That decision is now unnecessary.

The hookah lounge application has led health officials to discuss the need for tobacco use and sales regulations in town. Currently, local regulations do not exist and the town is governed by state laws, which permit tobacco use at locations where more than half of the business’ receipts stem from tobacco products, according to Carbone.

The Board of Health will conduct a public hearing on proposed tobacco control regulations for Andover on March 17, Carbone said. A location and time for the hearing has not yet been set.