Town of North Hempstead sets rules for vape shop locations

Town of North Hempstead sets rules for vape shop locations
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The North Hempstead Town Board approved regulations Tuesday prohibiting indoor smoking establishments, such as vape shops and hookah bars, from being located near residential neighborhoods and areas where large numbers of children are found.
Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, who spearheaded the effort to regulate vape shops, said the legislation was aimed at protecting children from exposure to tobacco products.
“The purpose of this zoning amendment is to regulate where indoor smoking establishments are located and to make sure that they’re located in places that are not near where children congregate and not in residential neighborhoods,” De Giorgio said.
The law requires indoor smoking businesses to be located at least 500 feet from a residential property or home.
It also requires the businesses to be at least 1,000 feet from any school, place of worship, park, playground or playing field, library or hospital.
The legislation, which was introduced at the July 12 board meeting, was reviewed by the Nassau County Planning Commission at its July 28 meeting.
De Giorgio said the planning commission advised the town that it could make its own “local determination.” The board unanimously approved it.
Planning Commissioner Michael Levine said that the distance restrictions  cross municipality lines, so if a school is located in the Town of Hempstead and a proposed vape shop or hookah lounge is less than 1,000 feet away,  it would not be permitted.
In order for an existing indoor smoking establishment to be “grandfathered” in to the new regulations, Levine said, it would need to have all necessary permits and conform to town code.
“If the operation is fully permitted, prior to the enactment of the law, they get to keep what they have,” he said. “But if their operation does not have the proper permits, then they’re not entitled to grandfathered in protection.”
Levine said if someone reports a nonconforming indoor smoking establishment, the building department would review the business’ file and look at what it is permitted to have prior to the law’s enactment.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and De Giorgio said the legislation was a joint effort between the town attorney’s office, building department and public safety department.
The town is also looking at limiting what type of signs would be permitted outside  smoking establishments.
On July 12, the board set a public hearing for its Sept. 13 meeting on proposed legislation that would establish regulations on advertising for electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products on the outside of smoking businesses.
The next board meeting is on Aug. 23.

By Joe Nikic

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