City Plan Commission to Consider ‘Vapor Bar’ in Stevens Point
Left, two examples of what a proposed “vapor bar” could look like in Downtown Stevens Point. (stevenspoint.com)
By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point Plan Commission next week will consider whether to allow a “vapor bar”- an establishment which caters to users of e-cigarettes- to operate within the city limits.
Wausau resident Chris Overlay has approached the City of Stevens Point about opening such a business- also known as a vapor lounge- in the downtown area. In a letter to the city, Overlay explained e-cigarettes should not fall under the city’s smoking ban- which was passed locally and statewide in 2010- because the product “steams” rather than “smokes” and it contains no tobacco.
In his letter Overlay also said a vapor lounge would have a positive impact on the downtown because it would be the first of its kind and would add a “modern taste to Downtown Stevens Point, one that will attract people to Main Street”. A call to Overlay was not immediately returned.
According to city documents, no ordinances currently exist to govern the operations of vapor bars, making them prohibited throughout the city. For such a business to operate city leaders will need to approve changing the zoning codes.
City leaders also have the option to adopt a resolution banning the use of e-cigarettes and similar products in restaurants and taverns. Rib Mountain and Appleton have already banned e-cigarette use in regular commercial businesses but do permit vapor bars to operate.
In a memo to the commission, Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski advised caution because the practices inside the lounges would be difficult for the city to regulate, and also because little research exists on the long-term affects of e-cigarette use.
Ostrowski’s office recommends if the commission does approve such a business it should impose a conditional use permit, meaning the business must operate within specific standards and restrictions laid out by the city.
The City Plan Commission meets at the Lincoln Center, 1519 Water Street, on Monday, March 3 at 6 PM.