MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Nine businesses on Ocean Boulevard, including smoke and vape shops, filed an appeal Friday to a January 16 decision by the Myrtle Beach Board of Zoning Appeals, over vape and CBD products.
The appeal obtained by News13 mentions the city’s ordinance that made it illegal to sell vape, CBD, and tobacco products within the Ocean Boulevard Entertainment Overlay District (OBEOD). The businesses claim the ordinance is unconstitutional and is a “taking of Petitioners’ businesses without due process subjecting Appellants to various penalties”.
The businesses listed on the court document are: Rasta, Wacky T’s, Doctor Vape, Blue Smoke Vape Shop, Best for Less, Grasshopper, Pacific Beachwear, T-Shirt King and Surf’s Up.
The businesses also requested that they be granted a variance to allow them to continue to sell such products in the district since they say they have been doing so for years, prior to the implementation of the ordinance. The ordinance took effect on January 1, 2019.
Business owners say denying them the right to sell these products was unconstitutional as a matter of law and a taking of their property.
They also claim in the circuit court appeal that the second reading of the ordinance was different than the text of the first reading, with the second version adding products and items to the banned list. Businesses also say Myrtle Beach City Council did not allow public comment or provide public notice on the changes made to the ordinance. The businesses request they be allowed to continue to operate and sell the now-banned products. You can read the other claims from the appeal at the bottom of this article.
In January of 2019, the City approved an ordinance temporarily preventing any new smoke and vape shops from opening in the city. News13 was told this was done in order to conduct a study to determine what restrictions they could place on the businesses in the future.
“Vape shops are relatively new and some people see them as possibly having a negative externality associated with them, and there’s just a little bit of an unknown quantity, and what we’re seeing is they’re starting to really pop up in a lot of places,” Carol Coleman, Director of the city’s Planning Commission told News13 previously.
The ban on new smoke and vape shops was only set to last for one year. During that time, the study was to be conducted.
City Manager John Pedersen told News13 at the time of the new shop ordinance that the idea for the study on smoke and vape shops came after Myrtle Beach passed its CBD overlay district, which bans the sale of similar products on parts of Ocean Boulevard.
“I think there was concern that with the ban in the overlay district, there would be a surge of vape shops moving to other locations, before that actually happened, it’s happened a little bit already, but before it got worse, I think council said let’s pause here and take a look at what we’ve got,” Pedersen said previously.
News13 reached out to the City of Myrtle Beach for a comment. Spokesperson Mark Kruea said the City typically doesn’t comment on pending litigation.