The village of Brookfield will explore tightening up language in its zoning code related to smoke and vape shops in order to limit their proliferation. Following a discussion of the subject at the village board’s May 22 meeting, elected officials gave village planning staff the OK to propose code amendments to the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission.

Brookfield is home to four businesses that fall under the smoke/vape category, three of them recent additions to the village. The tobacco shop in the strip mall at 8907 Burlington Ave. has been around for nearly a decade, while Leo’s Smoke & Vape opened at 9152 Broadway Ave. in 2021.

More recently, two smoke/vape shops opened within a couple of blocks of each other last year at 9120 Ogden Ave. and at 9323 Ogden Ave. That caught the attention of village staff, who sensed the community at large wasn’t so thrilled.

“Reading the tea leaves in the community, the general consensus was that there are enough vape shops, which do not bring a lot of tax benefits or other benefits to the community,” said Village Manager Timothy Wiberg. “We came to the conclusion that maybe we’d have that conversation with the village board to see if a change would be warranted or not.”

While there may be a desire to limit the number of smoke/vape shops in Brookfield, right now the zoning code doesn’t present many hurdles. The zoning code doesn’t call out that use specifically and, as a result, smoke/vape shops fall under the category of “non-durable goods,” something permitted by right along Ogden Avenue, at Eight Corners, in commercial districts on 31st Street and in commercial districts near the three Metra stations.

Smoke/vape shops are considered a special use in the industrial district along 47th Street.

“The possible way that the village could look to further regulate this type of use would be through zoning, possibly creating a breakout category for this type of business and then possibly further elaborating in the code where that business use might be allowed,” Village Planner Kate Portillo told elected officials on May 22.

The village could designate smoke/vape businesses as special uses, Portillo said. Existing businesses would be grandfathered in as legal non-conforming uses.

Village Trustee Edward Cote said he would like to see smoke/vape shops classified specifically in the zoning code, and he urged staff to include as part of their research into the subject any examples of municipalities that impose restrictions on how close such businesses can be to one another or to places like schools.

“Right now they could set up shop with three of them in one district – back to back to back,” Cote said. “It’s not the best business model, but it could happen, and I would like to have that included in that thought process.”

Trustee Nicole Gilhooley also favored exploring a code amendment, particularly with an eye on the village’s small districts, like the downtown and Eight Corners.

While giving the OK for staff to begin exploring changes to the code, trustees also gave staff the green light to submit proposed amendments directly to the Planning and Zoning Commission. If that happens, the commission would schedule a public hearing on the proposed amendment.