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Tosa Plan Commission rejects e-cigarette shop on North Avenue

WAUWATOSA -- In his colorfully-lit Greenfield e-cigarette shop, owner Ken Tran felt frustrated with Wauwatosa leaders.

\"I should have been... I would've been the first one [in Wauwatosa], but right now it doesn't  look like it yet,\" Tran said.

The 29-year-old stood before the Wauwatosa Plan Commission Monday night,  proposing an e-cigarette vapor shop near 71st and North Avenue inside a commercial strip his brother currently owns.

\"I walked in [to the meeting] and I'm like, holy crap, there's 40 people against me,\" Tran said.  \"What can I do?\"

The commission unanimously voted against him.  Tran says the committee told him it didn't think a vapor shop belonged in East Tosa where many children walk to and from school.

\"You have to be 18, first of all,\" Tran said.  \"I'm not going to risk my business to sell to minors.  Besides that, there's a tobacco shop next to me, there's bars everywhere, so take a look around before you judge.\"

Mayor Kathy Ehley chairs the plan commission. 

\"We had many, many, many people express concern about it,\" Ehley said.

Along with health department concerns, the mayor pointed to a 2011 study consultants developed for Wauwatosa that recommended certain businesses to  best suit North Avenue.  An e-cigarette store wasn't mentioned.

\"Having an e-cigarette store so close to an elementary school and on the avenue just didn't seem like it was in the spirit of the plan,\" Ehley said.

Ehley confirmed dozens of residents spoke out against the shop at the meeting, adding she had a stack of emails opposed to the proposal too.

\"We have to be balanced,\" Ehley said.  \"But we do have to go along with and listen to what the constituents are concerned about,\"

Despite a seemingly-uphill fight, Tran says he will keep pushing for approval.

\"You know, I'm going to fight it somehow,\" Tran said.  \"I will be there.\"

Despite the committee's rejection, Mayor Ehley requested the full city council take a look at the proposal in the coming weeks.


Late Monday, Wauwatosa Alderman and Plan Commission member Joel Tilleson added, \"The science behind e-cigarettes is inconclusive to the extent that the plan commission did not feel as though we had enough information to consider what safeguards were proper to ensure protection of the character of the immediate neighborhood.\"

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