Montour parents angry about smoke and pipe shop

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A group of Montour parents are concerned about a smoke and pipe shop that recently opened on Steubenville Pike near Burkett Elementary School in Robinson.

Members of the Montour Elementary Parent-Teacher Association told township commissioners Monday night they are concerned about the shop's proximity to youth and to Burkett Recreation & Sports Complex.

Lisa Smarra, the PTA president, said the business location is inappropriate.

“Our PTA, our families, our teachers [and] our sports teams … are all concerned about the opening of this particular kind of business in our neighborhood where our children go to school and where our children play,” Ms. Smarra said.

The shop, Glass Gone Wow, opened about three weeks ago, It sells high-end smoking products and accessories such as electronic cigarettes, hookahs, tobacco pipes and glass water pipes, according to the Facebook page of companion store Glass Gone Wild in Cranberry.

Robinson store manager William Montgomery said the business is responsible and mindful of the school and community.

“Nobody even enters into our store unless you’re 18 years of age with proof of ID, and every single person gets carded upon entry,” Mr. Montgomery said in a phone interview Tuesday. "There’s absolutely zero possibility a small child...will ever be exposed to any products that we sell within our store."

He said signs are posted on every entrance stating the age and ID requirements, and other signs indicate all products are for tobacco use only.

Robinson police Chief Dale Vietmeier said the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office confirmed the business is legal.

“You cannot stop [it],” Chief Vietmeier told commissioners, adding, “We’re going to keep a good eye on it.”

The retailer is permitted in the community commercial district, which includes the four-lane Steubenville Pike/Route 60 corridor that connects Interstate 79 and the Robinson shopping malls.

About 400 third- and fourth-graders attend Burkett on the opposite side of the road. The school is scheduled to close when Montour School District opens a new elementary building on Clever Road in Robinson in the early 2015-16 school year.

Ms. Smarra, whose son attends Burkett, said she wanted to work with commissioners in the future “to create a restrictive zoning ordinance so that this kind of business does not open near our schools or our parks.”

Commissioner Samuel Abatta said the township was obligated to permit the store to open, but officials would look at updating zoning regulations to limit similar businesses to certain areas.

Township attorney Jack Cambest said communities must accommodate every type of legitimate business somewhere within its borders, but the township may decide that adult-oriented businesses would fit better in zoning districts that don’t contain schools.

“With the application being made, with this type of use being a permitted use, you can’t go retroactively, you can’t go backwards,” Mr. Cambest said. “We will look and see if we can limit that type of thing in the future.”

In 2006, a Common Pleas judge found that Robinson officials had been wrong to deny an occupancy permit to adult specialty boutique, Sassy Sensations, 6080 Steubenville Pike, and ruled that the business could open.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:

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