EASTON, Pa. -

A warehouse for expensive French wines and the next phase in the development of the Simon Silk Mill project were given the green light Wednesday night by the Easton Planning Commission.

Unis Star Importing wants to open a wine warehouse at 415 Bushkill St.

The company got the backing of the commission, which will recommend that the zoning hearing board grant final approval of the plan.

Unis' owner, who lived in France for eight years, plans to import specialty Bordeaux wines from wineries, storing about $50,000 worth of cases of wine for distribution to Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits outlets.

The building, which was once used by an electrical contractor, would not be open to the public.

Ultimately the pricey wines would most likely wind up in restaurants, said Catherine Kollet, the attorney for Unis.

The commission denied a recommendation from its own staff that it recommend the zoning hearing board approve a Smoke Shop and Convenience Store proposed by Caroline Krouse at 1303 Northampton St., the site of a former insurance agency.

Several commission members said they did not like the idea of a smoke shop selling glass pipes, rolling papers and rolling machines, among other smoke "accessories," near the Paxinosa Elementary School.

"I believe these to be a nuisance business," said commission member Dennis Lieb.

He called smoke shops like the one proposed at 13th and Northampton streets "not a good thing for Easton."

The smoke shop's fate will be determined by the zoning hearing board at a later date.

After lengthy discussion on the Silk Mill project, the commission recommended final approval of phase three sought by the Redevelopment Authority of Easton, consisting of the conversion of three buildings into residential low-rise and cottage industry uses, as well as the addition of 15 new parking spaces.

The Simon Silk Mill site, at 671 N. 13th Street, includes 18 buildings, all of them vacant, with a total floor area of 306,986 square feet.

It is the largest economic development project in the city and it was given a huge marketing boost when it was designated a Keystone Opportunity Zone site, which means no property taxes for 10 years for future property owners of the condominium project.