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Attorney fights to keep Bountiful e-cig shops open

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Posted at 9:44 PM, Dec 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-28 23:48:19-05

BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- Four Bountiful businesses are fighting to stay open after the city told them Thursday they need to close by the end of the year.

All four businesses sell e-cigarettes and related merchandise. Each of them obtained a business license in the past year, but the city has now informed the owners that their stores don't meet state zoning laws and their business licenses will not be renewed for 2014.

The four stores are Urban Vapor, Vapor Loc, Vapor Dreams and Vapor R Us.

On Saturday morning, police officers delivered each of the stores another letter that informs the business owners of their right to appeal the city's decision, but does not make any allowances for stores to remain open during the appeals process.

Three of the four stores have retained attorney Walter Keane.

"The city is taking property in this case without just compensation. It's no different than if they locked the doors themselves and locked these businesses. They've taken any right that these folks have to earn an income," Keane said in an interview Saturday. "What we're going to be seeking from the court on Monday is to keep these businesses open."

State zoning laws prohibit e-cigarettes from being sold within a certain number of feet from schools, parks or churches.

As Aaron Frazier, Director of advocacy group "Utah Vapers" pointed out, some other types of businesses with products meant only for adults are not held to the same standard.

"Even the state liquor stores sit right next to residential areas in parts of town," Frazier said.

Keane said he'd like to challenge the zoning laws, saying some of them are unconstitutional.

Meanwhile Keane will seek an injunction to keep the businesses open. The business owners say they're all too heavily invested to simply give up.

Watch FOX 13 News and fox13now.com for updates on this story.