PEMBROKE — The Pembroke Town Council received more information about a proposed hookah bar in the town during a public hearing on Monday.
Discussion of the request was tabled during the council’s June 6 meeting and again Monday because it has not been reviewed by the town’s Planning Board.
Awad Alsaidi presented information on behalf of the applicant, Zakariya Alsaidi, who did not attend the meeting.
A hookah is a tobacco pipe with a long, flexible tube that draws smoke through water contained in a bowl.
Alsaidi said the hookah bar would be a place for people to “relax together, smoke together.” In addition to a variety of flavored tobaccos, the “menu” would include various snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, including smoothies and juices.
Alsaidi said plans are to open the lounge on West Third Street, near The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, but that operators are waiting on the town amend the town’s Unified Development Ordinance to allow hookah bars there before signing a lease.
Planned hours of operation are Mondays through Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to midnight; and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 1 or 2 a.m. He said that because Sunday is observed as a holy day by many, they are considering opening later, from about 2 or 3 to 10 p.m.
In response to Councilman Ryan Sampson’s question as to how sanitary a hookah is, Alsaidi said single-use disposable hoses would be provided to each customer and, after use, the hookahs leaned inside and out. Alsaidi said air purifiers would be used throughout the building.
Several people who spoke during the public hearing asked about the health effects of smoking hookah and how the business would prevent customers from smoking marijuana.
Councilman Larry McNeill asked Alsaidi how the bar staff would regulate what patrons put in the hookahs and Alsaidi said customers would be required to purchase all items on site, and they intend to hire security to oversee hookah use.
Alsaidi believes the hookah lounge will be an attraction in Pembroke, saying he sometimes drives to Raleigh to smoke hookah.
A public hearing followed on a request to amend Article 10 of the Town of Pembroke’s Unified Development Ordinance to disallow vendors, flea markets, peddlers and itinerant merchants in the Highway Business District and Industrial Zoning District, exempting agricultural products. Mayor Pro Tem Channing Jones said temporary vendors are setting up in the town during events like Lumbee Homecoming.
“The impetus is that we have a lot of vendors coming in to town selling merchandise, and doing it in a way that is unfair to tax-paying businesses,” Jones said.
That discussion was also tabled until Sept. 6.
In other business, the council:
— Heard an update on Solid Waste collection from Cecily Maynor of Pembroke Waste Collections. The town plans to provide all residents with large bins and pick up “white goods,” such as appliances, monthly. The collection schedule is still being determined. Pembroke Waste Collections will also pick up leaves and tree limbs, as the town does now.
— Approved a Health Reimbursement Arrangement resolution that Town Manager Tyler Thomas said “will help the town save money.”
— Announced that Pembroke Recreation Department will recognize baseball players who attended a recent tournament, as well as softball and soccer teams, on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Pembroke Town Park
— Heard from Mitch Lowry, with Pembroke Kiwanis, and Roderick Locklear, with the Lumbee Regional Development Association, who presented certificates of appreciation to Pembroke Police Chief Grant Florita thanking police and rescue personnel for their work during Lumbee Homecoming and recent Kiwanis events.
— Heard from Essie Jones, who complained about stray dogs in her neighborhood and questioned why she had received a letter from the town saying her yard was overgrown.
— Heard from Peggy Locklear, who said dogs had destroyed her storage building; that someone had been flipping a tractor tire late at night on her street; and that some town officials should have to live in town limits.
— Heard from Steven A. Arndt, who introduced himself as the new vice chancellor for Finance and Administration at UNCP.
— Heard from Phil Locklear, who complained about speeding on Jones Street.
Reach Juanita Lagrone at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.