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Vape shop sues over town's order to relocate

Michael Shannon owns BlackWaterVapor in downtown Sayville.

Michael Shannon owns BlackWaterVapor in downtown Sayville. Credit: Johnny Milano

Islip’s Zoning Board of Appeals incorrectly applied a town ordinance in a ruling forcing a vape shop in Sayville to eventually relocate off Main Street, according to a lawsuit filed with the state Supreme Court.

Attorney Donald J. King filed the lawsuit March 20 against Islip’s ZBA on behalf of BlackWaterVapor owner Michael Shannon. The town ZBA ruled last month that the business has one year and 99 days before it needs to relocate because the shop does not abide by the town’s adult use law. 

The lawsuit names ZBA members as defendants and calls the board’s decision “illegal,” “unconstitutional” and “arbitrary,” while it asks the court to amend the board’s decision and grant the shop’s owner between five years and 99 days and an indefinite stay in Sayville’s business district.

The store faces legal limbo because of a zoning regulation that  Islip passed in May 2016 — after the shop was already up and running — that lumps vape stores and vape lounges in the same category as strip clubs, prohibiting them from operating in business districts and forcing them into industrial areas.

An Islip ordinance says businesses deemed for adults can only remain in business districts between one year and 99 days and five years and 99 days before they must move.

Islip spokeswoman Caroline Smith declined to comment citing the pending litigation.

The lawsuit also says that the owner signed a 15-year lease on Dec. 1, 2015, and the board’s decision will cause him “severe financial and economic loss.”

"The proposed application will not have an adverse effect or impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district of the Town of Islip,” the lawsuit states.

The adult use ordinance passed in 1980 regulates “objectionable” businesses such as strip clubs and adult movie theaters. The ordinance prohibits those businesses from being within 500 feet of churches, parks and homes.

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