INDIAN TRAIL – The Town of Indian Trail is researching ways to regulate vape shops after receiving complaints from residents that there are too many of them.

Planning Director Brandi Deese received the town council's blessing on Aug. 24 to move forward with drafting a text amendment that addresses clusters of vape shops within shopping centers or being within close proximity to each other. She will bring back some recommendations at a future council meeting.

“Staff has noticed the number of vape shops has drastically increased over the last year or so and many are concentrated,” she said, adding they have received complaints and concerns from citizens.

Staff is fielding questions from citizens about why there are so many and why the town allows them. Deese also said vape shops tend to be heavy code violators, particularly when it comes to signage.

Councilmen Jerry Morse and David Cohn preferred letting the free market dictate the fate of the oversatured vape shop market. Cohn didn't think targeting vape shops was necessarily fair.

“I see where people complain about how many pizza places there are over on Monroe Road,” he said. “What's the difference?”

Having three grandsons, Councilman Mike Head would not only like to see vape shops spread out but he'd also like to see the signage reduced so they aren't attracting younger people.

“They dress them up like the Disneyland and they put all the flashy lights and everything around them,” Mayor Michael Alvarez said. “And we all know. We're not stupid. We can sit here and debate it all day. That's to attract the kids.”

The town adopted a Unified Development Ordinance in February that prevents future vape shops from opening within 500 feet of schools. Deese said she also has a draft available that could address repeat offenders of the town's sign ordinance.

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