(La Porte, IN) - There’s discussion about reducing the size of what many people view as a black eye on La Porte.
During Monday night’s La Porte City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Dermody got the ball rolling by asking if there are too many smoke shops and vape stores on main thoroughfares such as Lincolnway and Pine Lake Avenue. “Is that something better served in other areas of our business community,” he asked. Dermody also wondered if the concentration of such establishments in highly traveled areas sends the wrong message about a community promoting a healthier style.
La Porte County ranks toward the bottom out of the 92 counties in the state for the health of its citizens. Dermody said existing smoke shops and vape stores would be allowed to stay where they are currently located, but new ones through zoning could be directed to other less visible locations in the city.
City Councilwoman Laura Cutler said she supported discussing the matter but wondered where site location restrictions and limits on their number would stop. “I think you face some challenges. Do we need more dollar stores? Do we need more bars? People have specific opinions about those things,” she said.
Officials said the city’s zoning ordinance would have to be revamped to direct new smoke shops and vape stores in the future to more behind the curtain locations. Supporters also believe a high number of smoke shops and vape stores in well-traveled areas hurts the image of the city working hard at changing its image and wanting to further the momentum of attracting more upscale housing and tourists.