Salem Planning Board approves hookah lounge for Main StreetBy ADAM SWIFT
Union Leader Correspondent
April 24. 2014 9:03AM
SALEM - The Planning Board has approved a site plan for a hookah lounge on the second floor of 101 Main St.Mark Iannazzo, who operates the Havoc smoke and novelty shop on the first floor of the building, proposed the operation of the 20-seat hookah lounge.“They are electronic hookahs, so no coals or smoke are required,” said Iannazzo. “It filters through a regular hookah device, but there is just a vapor.”According to a fact sheet on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hookahs are water pipes that are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavors. The CDC said many users think smoking from a hookah is less harmful than cigarette smoking, but the CDC says it has many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking. Hookah smoking is typically done in groups, with the same mouthpiece passed from person to person, according to the CDC.Iannazzo said there would be no alcohol or food served, and the lounge would simply be a place for people to relax in small groups.Planning board members had no issues with the hookahs themselves, but members did raise some questions about parking for the business or if any food would be allowed in the lounge at all, including food brought by customers.“I don't have any problem with a hookah lounge,” said planning board member Linda Harvey. “I think it is an acceptable business for that location.”The building is located in a commercial/industrial zoning district, which is technically exempt from parking regulations. However, town planning director Ross Moldoff said the board does have the ability to require adequate parking in the district.Iannazzo noted that there is parking behind the business, but it is not striped.Planning board member Phyllis O'Grady said she would like to see the parking behind the building striped, as well as one handicapped parking space in the lot.“I'd like to see the parking spaces striped so there is no issue with cars getting blocked in when they are trying to get out,” said O'Grady.Board chairman Ed DeClerq said he would also like to see four dedicated parking spaces for the tenants of the two apartments who live on the second floor of 101 Main St.The handicapped space and the tenant spaces were included in the conditions of approval recommended by Moldoff.