Community Board 5 Gives Thumbs Down to Pot Shops

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]

Community Board 5 held its full-board meeting on Nov. 8 with a particularly large audience. 

Including 40 board members, the meeting drew over 100 attendees to Christ the King High School’s cafeteria. Many were no doubt there for one reason above all else: the board’s official recommendation on whether cannabis dispensaries should be able to open at three locations in the districts. 

The board’s Liquor License and Cannabis Committee met publicly on Nov. 1 to hear from the applicants for cannabis licenses hoping to open up shop, and unanimously voted to oppose the opening of cannabis stores in all three locations in their committee report. The board’s task at the full meeting was to vote “for” or “against” the Cannabis Committee’s report, solidifying CB5’s recommendation to the state (which has the ultimate say on whether the hopeful vendors will receive a license). 

Seven community members came to mic during the public forum section of the meeting to vehemently express their opposition to the potential applicants, and urged the board to vote to oppose them as well. 

District Manager Gary Giordano made his own comments on the locations as he explained the topic to the crowd ahead of voting time. 

“These locations are ridiculous. The 64-01 Grand Avenue is one long block from St. Stan’s. I think technically it’s a little bit over 500 feet,” Giordano said to the crowd. “The site at 63-09 Flushing Avenue, from what we can see, is less than 500 feet. 

Brian Whalen, the applicant for both of these locations, fought through a long back-and-forth with community members at the Committee’s Nov. 1 meeting. 

“The two proposals for the same location at 70-24 Myrtle Avenue next to McDonald’s—there’s the Redeemer Lutheran School, it’s now a public charter high school with ninth graders in it. I believe that is way less than 500 feet from the site,” Giordano continued. Masood Weish, an applicant for this location, also presented at the Nov. 1 meeting. 

Giordano added that there had been three potential applicants for a site at 56-40 Myrtle Avenue who had all withdrawn and who had never consulted with the property owner about whether they could rent the space in the first place. “This system is a real problem,” Giordano said. “[Board member] Ted Renz called me and said the property owner is opposed to having a cannabis shop at that location,” he added, to applause from the crowd. 

“These people upset the community,” Giordano said. “You all are out here spending your time with regard to this, many of you came to the public meeting we had here, the committee members have to work with regard to these ridiculous selections and we have to put our recommendations together.”

“As the district manager of this community board for more than three decades, I ask you to vote against these ridiculous locations,” he said, to more applause. 

Patrick Trinchesey brought the committee’s report to the board for a vote. 70-24 Myrtle Avenue was up first: the committee unanimously recommended an opposition due to the location’s proximity to Forte Prep, which Trinchesy said “was definitely under 500 feet” away. 

The board voted in favor of the committee’s statements. 

64-01 Grand Avenue and 63-09 Flushing Avenue were up next, voted on as a joint item. Trinchesy cited the locations’ proximity to St. Stan’s as the reason for opposition to the two locations. The board voted again, with only one member voting against the committee’s recommendation and all others in favor; applause and cheers filled the room once again. 


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