An amendment to restrict sales of vape products and guns to appropriate retail zones in Scarsdale is moving forward.
The Law Committee of the Scarsdale Village Board sent the proposed zoning law amendment to the Scarsdale Planning Board after a year and a half of research, planning, discussion and input from residents.
What exactly constitutes an “appropriate” retail zone?
Trustee Carl Finger, chairman of the Law Committee, said a vape or gun store will be able set up shop in a commercial area as long as it’s not within 1,000 feet of places of worship, the library or schools.
In other words, away from buildings that may have children coming and going.
Originally, the law committee members believed they had found 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 sent the amendment back for further consideration by the committee. That led to the updated 1,000-foot restriction.
If the amendment passes — it’s slated for a trustee vote in January — stores that sell vape products in the village have 12 months to clear out their merchandise. E-cigarettes and vaping products are currently available at the Five Corner Stationary store on Palmer Avenue, the 7-Eleven on Scarsdale Avenue and the Shell gas station at the corner of Post and Popham roads.
In the future. any merchant seeking to sell vaping products or firearms in the village must abide by the new code.
When the zoning discussion first began in April 2017, Allison Anderman, an attorney for San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence told the trustees there were two ordinances for the village to consider: a gun dealer ordinance and 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 Finger told The Inquirer in October.
After the committee meeting Dec. 10, Carissa Mazzeo, a representative for the American Lung Association, said Scarsdale can be setting an example by having these restrictions on vape products, especially when it comes to the teens in the village.
“Smoking rates [are] at an all-time low,” Mazzeo said. “But the average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13. Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S., so what [the trustees] are doing is really important.”
She said the Food and Drug Administration is moving to regulate vaping, but local municipalities have the ability to move faster.
With vape supplies being sold in easily accessible stores in the village, the trustees recognized the need to take action.
Noah Kroloff, a Butler Road resident, expressed support for a code change at the committee meeting in October and said vaping has become a problem in the village’s middle and high schools.
“It’s marketed effectively like a candy to youth,” Kroloff said. “It’s a shame this country spent 40 to 50 years to reduce the sales of cigarettes, but vaping has slid under the wire.”
Kroloff also spoke in favor of zoning restrictions for gun sales. “The availability [of guns] makes it easier to kill others, the way to make it less likely is to restrict the sales,” he said.
Finger said he’s heard from other residents who support this kind of amendment to regulate gun and vape products and he hopes he’ll get the same support from his fellow board members.
“The feedback I’ve gotten from the public … has been overwhelmingly positive,” Finger said. “I would imagine that same response is coming from the other trustees. I haven’t heard many negative responses.”
If the planning board approves this amendment, it will return to the board of trustees to vote on a resolution to hold a public hearing on the matter, and followed by a board vote on the amendment.
Finger said he hopes to have everything in place to move the proposed changes ahead in new year, assuming the planning board accepts the most recent changes to the zoning law.
Though there is a gun store in Hartsdale and vape stores in White Plains and Yonkers, Finger said he wants to make a difference in this community.
“If we can do things to make the community safer for our youth, help one teenager or one young person, whatever time we spend on it, it’s worth it,” he said.
The planning board is expected to meet Dec. 19.