New life breathed into North Adams vape shop plan


NORTH ADAMS — Barring another last-minute intervention, the city should soon have a new store for vaping supplies.

After being chased from a Holden Street storefront by concerned residents just weeks ago, Uniq Vape operator Syed Jamal plans to open a store for nicotine-based vaporizing products at 420 Curran Memorial Highway.

Vaping is often seen as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes and involves inhaling a usually nicotine-based vapor through devices such as vape pens, electronic cigarettes, mods or tanks.

Jamal had planned to open a vaping supply shop on Holden Street in June, having signed a lease and won approval from the planning board in May. But residents of the condominiums above the retail space argued that the spirit of a vaping supply store violated the spirit of the building's tobacco-free policy and was a detriment to the community's health.

The city's planning board unanimously approved Jamal's application for the new store on Monday, but with the conditions that the building's owner, Charles Fox, remove extraneous debris from the site and either fix or remove dilapidated fencing on the property.

The Federal Drug Administration has noted an increase usage of electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-based smokeless products in recent years, especially among the youth, and its potential long-term health effects have been hotly debated as it grows in popularity.

The proposal for a Curran Highway store falls fully within the health regulations recently enacted by the city that more strictly regulate the sale of nicotine-based products. The regulations place buffer zones around schools, but the Curran Highway store does not cross that boundary.

Also per new city regulations, the store would not sell vaping supplies to persons under the age of 21 and the products will not be used on-site.

Jamal has owned a similar vaping supply store in the Berkshire Mall for more than a year.

The planning board had approved a pet daycare facility to move into 420 Curran Highway earlier this year, but Fox said a back injury has prevented the owner from launching the business. He has since subdivided the property to allow room enough for another business.

Fox said there have been several improvements to the property, including a trimming of shrubbery and removal of vehicles, but Planning Board Chair Michael Leary disagreed.

"It doesn't really look like it was a major improvement to me," Leary said, adding a condition that the fence around the property be addressed.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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