MAHOPAC, N.Y. - With the Putnam County Legislature mulling a new law that would raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 because of the dramatic increase in the number of teens using vaping products, the Carmel Town Board is considering a temporary moratorium on vaping/smoke shops in town.
Councilwoman Suzi McDonough proposed the idea at the Town Board’s Aug. 8 meeting.
“I have been getting quite a few emails and phone calls from residents and they say that they’ve been noticing more and more of these vape shops opening up in the town of Carmel,” she said. “Since we are going to be re-doing the master plan and codes and all that, I thought we could put on a temporary moratorium.”
McDonough said she believed there could be as many as five vape/smoke shops in town already, but Councilman Jonathan Schneider said the number is probably even higher than that.
McDonough said her research revealed that the use of electronic cigarettes has increased by 900 percent from 2011 to 2015.
“I am not trying to impose on anybody’s rights to smoke, but I think it’s imperative that we send the right message to the children here,” she said. “Sometimes there are just too many of [the vape shops] popping up.”
Supervisor Ken Schmitt told McDonough he supported the idea of a temporary moratorium.
“I am in total agreement with you. I think we should,” he told McDonough.
Town attorney Greg Folchetti said any such moratorium would be done via a local law subsequent to a public hearing.
“There is not a hard-and-fast time [for a moratorium], but my recommendation is that you don’t do it beyond a six-month period for any new applications,” Folchetti told the board. “There are no new applications pending right now either before the building department or the Planning Board. I would recommend six months, but you can extend it if need be. I am assuming this is going to dovetail somehow with your efforts to update the master plan. But arbitrarily doing it for a year or two years, I wouldn’t do that. I think that is the safest thing from the Town Board’s perspective for anyone who may seek to challenge it. It’s a safe number.”
Folchetti added that the Town Board would have to deliver findings as to why it wants the moratorium and why it thinks it would be in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the town of Carmel.
Schmitt emphasized that if the board did enact a moratorium, it wouldn’t impact existing shops.
“So that it is clear to the public, this wouldn’t affect any existing businesses that are currently open. It is for new businesses going forward,” he said.
Folchetti said vaping/smoke shops fall under the “general retail” category and the prohibition would be for those types of shops as a “permitted retail use” for the specific period of time.
Folchetti will draft a version of the local law for the Town Board to approve and then a public hearing will be scheduled, likely sometime in September.