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Westchester Businesses Forced To Close On Short Notice

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Some small businesses in Westchester are being forced to close, a move that has surprised some shop owners – and dozens of other businesses could be next.

“There was no warning, it was just random,” said Miesha Stokely of Cupcake Cutie Boutique.

Cupcake Cutie was one of several small businesses shut down as part of what the Mount Vernon officials call a quality of life program, reports CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.

“I went there to enforce the codes,” said Mount Vernon Building Commissioner Dan Jones, noting that the shop was on a list of 65 small businesses his task force had found to be “non-compliant” on issues ranging from broken smoke alarms, blocked exists or broken elevators.

“The idea was safety,” he said. “We are very pro business.”

Stokely says when it comes to her business, none of those apply, so she wants to know why she’s being shut down.

“This is everything to me, me and my mom worked hard to open this business,” she said. “We’re from here, we wanted to give back. We wanted our business to thrive in this city. But they’re just giving us a hard time to operate.”

Jones says the South Fifth Street shop was at fault because the owners didn’t submit drawings of their space, and they’ve had a warning since opening.

“One thousand, 300 and some odd days of being a bad actor,” said Jones. “They are not victims here.”

Stokely showed CBS2 the plans she said she submitted because she wants nothing more than to stay in business.

“I like to mentor young girls and teach them how to bake, and this is me in my community trying to uplift the community and they’re just giving me a hard time, it’s very upsetting,” she said.

She says the cease and desist is personal because her father is an outspoken critic of the current Mount Vernon administration.

“This is not a Cupcake Cutie story,” she said. “It’s a quality of life story.”

Letters have gone out to 50 additional stores on the violations list, so more store may close in 2019.

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