Beginning March 1, the city of Mesquite will enforce and prohibit smoking paraphernalia to only be sold in commercial or industrial areas in the city.
Smoking paraphernalia commonly used for consuming illegal substances may be sold only in stores located within commercial or industrial areas in Mesquite through conditional use permits approved by the City Council.
“This is a public safety and quality of life issue. The sale of the smoking paraphernalia devices directly associated with illegal drug possession and use have been directly linked to crimes in our community, including a recent murder in a convenience store parking lot,” City Manager Cliff Keheley said. “Additionally, the stores located near neighborhoods and schools selling that type of merchandise have adversely affected property values, the character of our community and the overall quality of life in Mesquite.”
The Mesquite City Council passed and approved the amendment to various sections of the Mesquite Zoning Ordinance at their Jan. 4 regular meeting. The changes go into effect March 1 and include requirements that any paraphernalia shop be located at least 500 feet from residential areas, schools and churches. Also, outdoor storage or display of paraphernalia products will not be allowed, as well as drive-through or walk-up windows.
The zoning ordinance amendment describes smoking paraphernalia as items such as certain pipes, bongs and masks known to be used to inhale legal or illegal substances. Tobacco cigarettes, tobacco cigars, rolling papers, and electronic cigarettes are not considered paraphernalia products under the amended ordinance.
“The very essence of every city is to preserve and enforce good government that provides a safe and secure community for its citizens,” Keheley said. “This zoning ordinance amendment gives us a tool to do that.”
Violation of the zoning ordinance carries a Class C Misdemeanor and a fine of up to $2,000. The city plans to contact all stores that currently sell paraphernalia equipment to notify them of the zoning ordinance amendments and the requirement to request a conditional use permit from the City Council for sales at an industrial or commercial location.