Seven vape shops in Babylon — including three that were cited by police for selling to minors — were shut down this week by the town for building and fire code violations, officials said Wednesday.
Councilman Terence McSweeney, also the town's public safety chairman, made the announcement Wednesday outside the shuttered Cloud Werx on Route 109 in West Babylon. He said the town Quality of Life Task Force’s sting operation of 12 e-cigarette shops found dozens of fire and building code violations.
“To become more friendly main streets in the Town of Babylon for families and children,” the town limited vape shops in 2018 to industrial areas, McSweeney said. Existing shops were grandfathered in and allowed to stay in retail areas.
“We felt that they are targeting our children,” he said.
Like the six others that were closed, Cloud Werx was found to be without a certificate of occupancy, McSweeney said. The store had also been selling e-cigarettes to minors, according to the Suffolk County Police Department, which conducted a sting operation of its own, visiting 23 shops in Babylon in September, finding that 10 were selling the products to minors, First Precinct Insp. Kevin Kane said.
The proprietor of Cloud Werx could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Unlike the legal businesses grandfathered in when the town changed the law in 2018, those without valid COs may not continue to operate in residential or retail areas.
They may be able to re-open if they relocate to industrial areas and away from schools, churches and playgrounds, McSweeney said.
“They didn’t let anyone at the town know they were opening up for business,” McSweeney said of Cloud Werx. “During our task force we came across it.”
Selling to minors won’t get a business shut down, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said. The owner is subject to a police misdemeanor charge and fine if found guilty, Kane said.
Maryann Morhaim, co-owner of Surreal Vapors on Grand Boulevard in Deer Park — one of the shuttered businesses — said the business was operating legally.
Officials said Surreal Vapors, along with the others that were shut, never had a retail CO to operate. Bonner said the shop also did not have a proper fire exit, lacked a carbon monoxide detector and had unsafe wiring.