Using the way it licenses liquor sales as a model, approved Monday the revamping of how it regulates the sale of tobacco in the village.
The change comes after the board voted in March to . In the past, licenses were approved on a case-by-case basis, but officials said they wanted to develop a more consistent procedure.
Under the new ordinance, businesses that sell tobacco products will be divided into two classifications:
- Tobacco stores: These retailers earn more than 10 percent in gross revenue from tobacco and tobacco-related products. Examples would be cigar, pipe and cigarette shops.
- Accessory tobacco sales: These retailers earn less than 10 percent in gross revenue from tobacco and tobacco-related products. Examples would be gas stations, convenience stores, drug stores, grocery stores and other businesses like that.
While there is no limit to the amount of accessory tobacco sales licenses the village can dole out, tobacco store licenses have been capped at three, which accounts for the current number of those types of business in Frankfort. As with liquor licenses, however, the village can increase that number to accommodate board-approved special use exceptions.
Another reason for the license restructuring was a concern among village officials that Frankfort had reached its limit of stores that sold tobacco products. Because of its proximity to Cook County and its lower Will County taxes, Frankfort is an attractive location for cigarette store owners wanting to take advantage of Cook County smokers looking to pay less for their habit. In March, Village Administrator Jerry Ducay said he had seen an increase in the applications for tobacco licenses at that time.
Ducay, in March, also said the changing policy was in no way meant to be targeting tobacco stores, citing past instances where village officials took similar steps to control the influx of banks and auto repair shops.
Singling out tobacco stores or not, Rose Gillece, the senior broker for Tinley Park-based Network Commercial Real Estate Group, said in an interview Wednesday that this move sends the wrong message to business owners and developers that could hurt Frankfort in the long run.
Gillece's former client, Kishor Chavda, lost his bid to open Fresh Tobacco for Less at 2095 S. LaGrange Road in March when he and Gillece were told to attend the meeting where the board announced the license moratorium. that started the ball rolling on the license re-examination. It was a surprise to Gillece, who said no one from the village had indicated to her or Chavda that the board was going to do this.
"We lost the client that night," she said. "My owner still doesn't have a tenant."
Disappointment with the outcome of that March situation has led to disappointment over the board's final decision in how it regulates tobacco sales licenses. Gillece disagrees with the assessment that Frankfort has too many—or on the cusp of having too many—outlets selling tobacco. In fact, the reason the location for Chavda's store was so ideal was because there are no places to buy cigarettes on that side of LaGrange Road from St. Francis Road to U.S. Route 30, she said.
Also, she said she worries that this could make business owner not only question setting up shop in Frankfort. With the economy still struggling, that could financially hurt the village, especially when those same owners other communities in the area as options, such as Mokena and New Lenox.
"I think they've closed to door to a lot of retailers wanting to come into the village, Gillece said. "Would I pursue another tobacco shop in Frankfort? No."
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