The Jackson City Council is expected to hear the zoning case of Vape Empire, a business in northeast Jackson, at its Jan. 24 meeting.
The case was on the agenda for the council’s Dec. 20 meeting but was postponed.
“The attorney for Vape Empire was unavailable,” said Ashby Foote of Ward 1.
Vape Empire, which is located at 5610 Old Canton Road, began selling tobacco, cigars, e-cigarettes, CBD products and other products in June.
In August, it received a zoning violation letter from the city of Jackson.
“A zoning violation letter is something where we document a violation,” said Ester L. Ainsworth, zoning administrator for the city of Jackson. “It tells them what needs to be done to correct it and gives a timeframe to do it and provides them an opportunity to appeal whether our interpretation represents a violation.”
A zoning violation letter provides a recipient 15 days to comply, which in the case of Vape Empire meant submitting a zoning action application. “The fact they submitted a zoning application put a halt on processing it as a violation,” Ainsworth said.
In October, the city of Jackson Planning Commission recommended that Vape Empire be denied a use permit. Mohammed Alqadhi, a partner in the business, is listed as the petitioner in the case.
The business can continue to operate during the appeal process,
The Sheffield Area Homeowners Association along with the homeowners’ associations for Carolwood Part 4 and Heatherwood as well as JXN United and Jackson Academy would like Vape Empire to close. Eric Farmer and China Donnell have spoken in opposition of Vape Empire.
Occupying a building that once housed Hallmark Cleaners, Vape Empire sits between MEA Medical Clinic and a Valero gas station.
Ashley Ogden, president of the Sheffield Area Homeowners Association who has led the opposition to Vape Empire, contends there’s no need for the store. “There are two gas stations selling the same products next door to the store,” he said.
Vape Empire is near the north campus of New Jerusalem Church at 5708 Old Canton Road, close to many homes with children and not an asset to the area, Ogden said.
“It is not the type of store that increases the property value of stores or houses in the vicinity,” Ogden said, who considers vaping is a gateway to smoking cigarettes.
Should the city council vote to deny Vape Empire a use permit, Vape Empire has the option of appealing to either Hinds County Chancery Court or Circuit Court.
“Depending on the outcome, this could take some months before a final determination occurs,” said Jordan Rae Hillman, director of planning for Jackson.