Rockford committee approves hookah ordinance

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 10:13 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Hookah lovers could see lounges open up in Rockford over the next few months after a major hurdle is cleared today at Rockford city council.

The hookah ordinance passed through committee but it wasn’t unanimous as some alderpersons are excited about the added business others are concerned what kind of image it could portray.

“If it involves smoking or other activities that are just bad activities I don’t think the city should be supporting that,” said Alderperson Venita Hervey.

Hervey says after conversations with her constituents the proposed hookah ordinance is not something she can support.

“Based on the calls that I’ve got people don’t believe we should be taking this much activity to be facilitating smoking,” Hervey said.

Hervey says business owners she’s talked to aren’t too keen on the idea calling it hypocritical.

“Not restaurants but the actual bars that felt they got hit really hard when indoor smoking was banned,” Hervey said.

Despite the objections, the hookah ordinance passes through the codes and regulations committee. Alderperson Jonathan Logemann says this brings a new venture to the city, if done in a responsible way.

“Not move too fast to see if this works and  who is attending these establishments and who’s coming to them. See if there are issues and if it becomes successful the city could possibly look into loosening restrictions,” Logemann said.

While there would be strict guidelines in place, Logemann believes if approved these businesses would attract a younger population providing an economic boost for Rockford.

“They are a really trendy place for folks in their 20′s and 30′s to meet up so I think this would bring a lot of economic benefit to the city,” Logemann said.

The hookah ordinance does not allow lounges to offer food or alcohol, it must be a stand-alone business and 80% of revenue must come from sales of hookah products.

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