By Jon Meoli, email@example.com
4:30 PM EDT, October 15, 2013
The Baltimore County Council is considering a resolution that asks the county Planning Board to examine and recommend regulations for the county’s burgeoning number of hookah lounges.
The resolution requests the Planning Board “to recommend the most effective options for defining and regulating hookah lounges in a manner consistent with the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Baltimore County.”
While several hookah lounges, at which groups of patrons smoke flavored tobacco from a water pipe, are open in Baltimore County, neither state nor county laws specifically regulate the lounges.
The lounges do not have liquor licenses, and thus operate as BYOB establishments. The council members have concerns about the lack of oversight and ability to enforce county liquor laws, and the fact that patrons can smoke indoors.
Councilmen Tom Quirk, David Marks, Todd Huff, and Ken Oliver introduced the resolution.
First District Councilman Quirk and Oliver, who represents the 4th District, said they’ve received complaints about lounges in Arbutus and Randallstown, respectively. Marks, who represents the 5th District, including Towson, and Huff, who represents the 3rd District, said the growing number of lounges in downtown Towson is becoming an issue.
Marks, Huff, and Oliver co-sponsored a bill in May 2012 that would have required BYOB licenses that the three said was in response to issues at hookah lounges, but the bill was withdrawn.
The council will vote on the resolution on Monday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers.