It’s officially official.
After nearly three years of discussion, the vapor lamp has been extinguished and gun sales silenced.
Scarsdale Board of Trustees and Mayor Dan Hochvert voted unanimously Feb. 13 to approve zoning code amendments prohibiting the location of gun stores within 250 feet, and vape product sales within 1,000 feet, of sensitive use areas.
Village Attorney Angela Martin said a sensitive use area is one that’s frequented by youth, such as places of worship, schools and parks.
“Personally, it’s deeply satisfying because I invested fairly heavily in this effort,” said Trustee Carl Finger said, who started the process three years ago and now is just a month away from the conclusion of his term on the village board. “These were positive changes, but sometimes the legislative process takes some time,” he said.
Since the process began, a series of changes were made, including the vape zoning restriction.
But Finger was confident the changes were made for the better.
“I feel good about the fact that we used the time from beginning to end to put together improvements in the legislation,” he said. “Each stage and each review made the law and the changes better from adding the vape component to changing the … logistics of how it’ll work.”
Finger said the village ended up with a law that has solid legal foundation, meets the concerns of the community and will be a positive for the village’s youth.
The legislative process began when a gun store opened in Harrison in close proximity to a school.
“Even though we don’t really have that problem in Scarsdale, I didn’t want to wait for someone to [open up a store here],” he said.
With reports of a surge in vape use among high school students, Finger wanted to restrict sales of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) through a change in the code as well.
“Last spring, as I was thinking about the amendments we were thinking about, it occurred to me that we could add in the vape component,” Finger said.
He drafted legislation to include the ENDS zoning restriction, which was reviewed by the village attorney and later discussed at subsequent law committee meetings.
“I have kids in school, and I’m hearing from them about the vaping in a way that’s demonstrated it’s disruptive,” Finger said. “When [you hear] where and how it’s happening, it’s disconcerting knowing how negative the impacts [of vaping] can be.”
Stores in neighboring towns carry vape products, but Finger said he hopes this zoning restriction will be enough to at least dissuade teens from buying them.
“Hopefully limiting accessibility will prevent a few young people from making that first foray into what could be a negative path,” he said.
Finger said a few high school students knew about the proposed zoning restrictions, and he heard positive comments from the teens.
“They were supportive,” he said. “If it even has an occasional impact on a few kids, it’s positive. Even middle schoolers are trying these products, and it can all go downhill from there. If there’s less of these products available, maybe they’ll be used less.”
“I never thought it couldn’t be finished before I left,” said Finger, who will leave the board in March. “Time was a factor but given the support in the community and professional advice from staff, I was confident that it would get done.”
Now that it’s done, Finger said there was hardly any pushback against the legislation, although there was some discussion about how restrictions on the vape products might impact smokers who use ENDS to wean themselves off of cigarettes.
Despite those concerns, Finger said he stood by the legislation, simply because of the facts and research.
“The research and evidence and studies regarding the impact of vape products on young people … speak for themselves,” he said.
Now that the legislation has passed, stores carrying ENDS products have a year to get rid of the merchandise. Stores that are looking to open in the village will have to abide by the new legislation.