Community Board 5 Concern over Cannabis Storefronts

By Celia

Community apprehension about cannabis storefronts in Queens continues on, with Community Board 5 members voicing concern about applications the board has received from those hoping to open dispensaries.

“We’re getting some difficult to understand things,” District Manager Gary Giordano said.

“We have three different applications for a cannabis dispensary at 560 Myrtle Avenue, from three different people, all with the same last name.”

The board also received two applications to open a dispensary at 724 Myrtle Avenue, Giordano said, as well as an application for 6309 Flushing Avenue.

Giordano explained that a community member contested that the 6309 Flushing Avenue application was too close to St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy. “Then somebody comes back with an application for 6401 Grand Avenue. First one’s Flushing, this one’s Grand…which is also too darn close to Stan’s.”

“This is one long block away. Whether it’s less than 500 feet or not I’m not sure,” Giordano said, referring to the rule that dispensaries should not be built within 500 feet of schools.

District Manager Gary Giordano addresses the public

Community Board 5 is not alone in their confusion. Boards around the city are seeing an influx of applications after the city recently opened the permit process for legal cannabis shops to the public, with some fielding over 20 applications.

Similar to the liquor license process, community boards offer their approval or disapproval of applications to open cannabis storefronts. The state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) takes their assessment into consideration when making the final decision of approval or disapproval, but is not required to side with community boards.

There is no standardized process by which boards deliberate on these permits—each board can decide for itself how it will run the approval process, whether it requires the entire board to vote or only a select committee.

Giordano explained that the board had asked for 30-day extensions from OCM on all of the applications, and had those requests largely granted. Generally, boards must offer an opinion to the state within thirty days after being notified of an application.

Giordano said he thinks that time constraint is “absolutely ridiculous in order to do any kind of reasonable deliberation.” He also expressed concerns about the quality of the applications.

“The first two that we got, like them or not, especially the first one for the location at 7403 Metro, the old Chase bank—at least that person seemed like they have their act together, the application was much more professionally done, and as we’re getting more of them it just seems more and more haphazard. So I’m quite worried with regard to what kind of people are applying for all of this.”

Later in the meeting, Treasurer of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Transportation Committee Eric Butkiewicz had questions.

“Given that it’s a matter of large public concern, I request, if possible, can this board and the public get an outline or a summary of what the next month will look like, for the five applications for cannabis licenses that Gary mentioned?”

“Not sure I understand what you’re looking for,” Board Chairman Vincent Acuri Jr. said.

“It’s more specifically a roadmap for the public,” Butkiewicz said. “I’m asking what they should expect from this board…I’m sure the board office is going to be fielding a number of questions: ‘hey what is the board doing on this?’ And I’m asking that there’s a quick summary of what will be going on so that some of those questions are answered, pre-empting a call.”

“Do you know what he’s looking for?” Arcuri asked someone nearby, and then said “Okay. Mr. Giordano will follow up.”

Butkiewicz informed the Queens Ledger that the cannabis committee will take up the issue at their meeting on Nov 1, but that it remains unclear whether or not there will be a public forum on the applications.

Sewer Project Leaves Maspeth Residents with Flooding Sidewalks, City Offers Repairs

Credit: Charlie Finnerty

By Charlie Finnerty |


A $101 million Department of Design and Construction (DDC) project to overhaul Maspeth’s sewer and water infrastructure along 70th Street and prevent flooding is in its tenth year. As the DDC continues to renew the area’s sewers, some residents have raised concerns about water pooling during rainstorms after the construction in their area replaced sections of sidewalk.

Maspeth resident Ann McGee said her biggest worry is the risk of residents falling when the pools freeze over in the winter. 

“It’s the whole side of my block, every house is puddling,“ McGee said. “It’s so bad.”

McGee, who lives on 70th street between 52nd Drive and 53rd Avenue said she has been contacting various city offices for almost two years trying to get the DDC to repave the sidewalks on her street.

Ben Geremia, a constituent services officer for District 30 Councilmember Bob Holden said that when DDC construction impacts existing sidewalks, as much of the original pavement is kept intact to conserve concrete. This often results in uneven surfaces where old existing walkways meet the newly patched sections, creating water pools and tripping hazards. 

“In every case where there is a problem — if not all of them, then 95% of them — occur where they left old sidewalk and poured new sidewalk next to it,” Geremia said. “That is where the puddles occur and these puddles are large. I know they’re all concerned now because winter is coming and they’re worried about having an ice rink in front of their house.”

According to Geremia, certain pools on McGee’s street can be up to eight feet long. The risks of these iced over water pools are not just dangerous for residents themselves, but could also potentially make homeowners liable for lawsuits if pedestrians fall and hurt themselves in front of their house, according to both McGee and Geremia.

This week, McGee and her neighbors were able to secure a victory with the DDC. DDC Executive Director of Public Information Ian Michaels said project engineers agreed that sections of sidewalk on McGee’s block were incorrectly installed and will redo the sidewalks before winter.

Queens DA Race Profile: Michael Mossa

By Charlie Finnerty |


Howard Beach resident and 20-year criminal attorney, Michael Mossa, is challenging incumbent Melinda Katz to become Queens’ District Attorney. With endorsements from both the Republican and Conservative parties of Queens County, Mossa is up against difficult odds, aiming to become the first Republican elected to the office in over 100 years while facing a popular Democratic District Attorney who herself only narrowly defeated firebrand progressive Tiffany Cabán in her 2019 primary. Mossa said he hopes to win over moderate Democrats to push him towards a successful campaign. The close vote tallies in Queens for the recent Governor and Attorney General elections suggest he may have a shot.

“People are so angry, especially in these neighborhoods with a higher Republican concentration of voters,” Mossa said. “Even if it’s 25% or 30%, that’s high in the city and the Democrats there are more likely to be conservative.”

In her June primary this year, Katz won 71%, or 37,762 votes, defeating retired judge and NYPD deputy commissioner George Grasso to her right, and progressive defense lawyer Devian Daniels to her left, who received roughly 14% of the vote each. As Queens voters — particularly in the western parts of the borough — become more progressive, Katz has staked out a brand as a moderating voice in local Democratic politics, implementing some criminal justice reforms but maintaining her mainstream appeal, bolstered by an endorsement from Mayor Eric Adams. Mossa wants to redefine that image to convince voters that Katz’s leadership is too far to the left of Queens communities.

Mossa — who previously ran for city council in Howard Beach and Rockaway in 2003 and lost to current New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo  — said he would like to see the District Attorney’s office pursue shoplifting crimes with the same fervor they prosecute domestic abuse cases with, the one area where Mossa said he feels Katz’ office is strong.

“They do a very good job in that office handling domestic violence, their top prosecutors are on it. It is important, primarily it does protect women, but they have it because it’s politically safe for them,” Mossa said. “ Why don’t they prosecute shoplifting? Because it’s not politically safe. I will deal with shoplifting in only three ways: Prosecute, prosecute, and prosecute. If you’re gonna steal, you’re gonna go to jail.”

This year, Katz has pursued initiatives herself to tackle shoplifting. Most notably, a partnership with the NYPD and local businesses to issue trespassing notices to individuals reported by business owners, along with an arrest warning if they return, is being rolled out across the borough and has recieved praise.

Mossa, who has legal experience in landlord-tenant litigation and criminal court, said he is concerned with the direction the city’s politics are changing with leftward momentum to empower tenants at the cost of landlords, allow low-level crimes like shoplifting to go unpunished and reform the criminal justice system. These broad political movements, Mossa said, are responsible for an environment more conducive to crime and repeat offenders.

“This is a DA who’s concerned about criminalizing poverty,” Mossa said. “That’s why they allow shoplifting. That’s where bail reform came from. That’s their slogan and they did a lot of damage to every major city in this country including ours. And I mean the radical left that controls the Democratic Party in the cities.”

Mossa also strongly opposed the city’s plan to close Rikers Island.

“Jail isn’t supposed to be pleasant,” Mossa said. “I’m not one to say ‘Oh a prisoner got beaten up, he got what he deserved.’ No, he deserved to be in jail, he doesn’t deserve to be beaten up by another inmate.”

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