Leaders of several organizations came out to show support of a zoning amendment for gun and vape shops at a public hearing Jan. 22.
The amendment would block gun stores from setting up within 250 feet of sensitive use areas and prohibit shops that sell electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) 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 a place of worship, school or park.
Originally, the Law Committee members believed there is an area on Garth Road that would have been suitable for the types of retail they wanted to limit without being in violation of the proposed code change. But feedback from the planning board put the amendment back for further consideration by the committee.
When the zoning discussion first began in April 2017, Allison Anderman, an attorney for San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told Scarsdale’s trustees there were two types of ordinances for the village to consider: a gun dealer ordinance and a safe storage ordinance.
The Law Committee saw a need to restrict the sale of vape and e-cigarette products as well.
“Given the negative impact vaping has on our youth, addressing the availability of … vape pens and other vaping supplies in an appropriate way makes a great deal of sense,” Trustee Carl Finger told The Inquirer in October.
At the public hearing, Chairman of the Advisory Council on Youth Jordan Copeland said he supports the ENDS zoning change.
“If there’s one word to describe teenagers, it would be impulsive,” he said. “I think all the brain science shows they’re not ready to calculate long-term decisions. This [zoning restriction] is taking the ‘candy’ from behind the cash registers; we don’t want [our youth] to make impulsive decisions.”
Copeland said he knows the zoning amendment won’t make it impossible for teens to take part in vaping, but it’s a start.
“It seems like e-cigarettes have become a Trojan horse [as] a way for people who’d never take part in smoking to take up the habit,” he said.
PT Council Legislative Advocacy Co-chairman Elissa Ruback said the organization strongly supports the ENDS zoning changes and supports efforts to educate the Scarsdale community about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.
Scarsdale High School PTA President Karen Ceske said the PTA recognizes the dangers e-cigarettes can pose to human health, especially in children. And, the organization plans to partner with Scarsdale’s Task Force on Drugs and Alcohol and the school administration to educate youths and children about the risks.
Brayton Road resident Michelle Sterling supported the legislation, drawing from a personal experience.
“I drove by the high school and noticed the school was evacuated,” she said.
Sterling thought it was due to the fire alarm going off. However, she learned this happens frequently due to e-cigarettes.
“Kids get [vape devices] into the schools, and it sets off the fire alarms, most of the time in the bathrooms,” she said. “I discovered it was nearly a weekly occurrence and there have been some weeks that it’s happened more than once.”
Sterling said she hoped something could be done about the problem.
In addition to supporting the legislation, Sterling said it’s important to educate kids about the risks associated with e-cigarette use.
Many kids in the elementary and middle schools learned about the dangers of e-cigarettes, but high schoolers may not be as aware as other students.
“I think it’s great the village is doing something about this,” she said. “We cannot wait for [ENDS] companies to do the right thing, but we are [doing the right thing].”
Trustee Justin Arest said residents who bear arms legally or use electronic nicotine delivery products won’t be directly affected by this legislation in the event that it passes, but the village is looking for a way to take action.
“We … are limited in what we can do and the power over many issues is held at the state and federal levels of government,” Arest said. “It doesn’t mean we should sit idly when we have tools at our disposal.”
Rather, Arest said the board is looking to take steps to do what’s best for the safety and welfare of the families and children.
The board of trustees is expected to vote on the zoning amendment at the trustees’ meeting Feb. 13.