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Community Board 5 committee reviews more applications for proposed retail cannabis dispensaries in Glendale and Ridgewood

Nov. 28, 2023 By Anthony Medina

At the Queens Community Board 5 Liquor License and Cannabis Committee meeting on Monday, Nov. 27, members voted to oppose four out of six applications for proposed cannabis dispensary locations in Ridgewood and Glendale.

The committee meeting at the Brewery Keenan Heiser American Legion Post on Cooper Avenue in Glendale allowed for thorough discussions about the new proposed dispensary sites only blocks away from some in review.

CB5 Liquor License and Cannabis Committee meeting on Monday, Nov. 27. Photo by Anthony Medina

In Ridgewood, 66-74 Fresh Pond Rd., 66-33 Fresh Pond Rd. and 55-14 Myrtle Ave. were presented to the committee as the next potential cannabis dispensary locations.

The applicant for the proposed dispensary on 66-74 Fresh Pond Rd. was the only one not in attendance and the committee made mention of other areas they failed to complete, which included a questionnaire that was never completed. Committee members pointed to The Office of Cannabis Management’s Guidance for Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries as a reference in their decision-making and ultimately opposed the site on 66-74.

According to the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), a dispensary cannot be near school grounds, a house of worship or a community facility. OCM includes parks and playgrounds in its definition of a “community facility.”

The committee also voiced its disapproval of the applicant’s absence.

Committee members initially motioned to oppose the dispensary application for 66-33 Fresh Pond Rd. due to its proximity to Benninger Playground, but the motion did not receive a majority vote. The committee did vote not to object to the location.

The last proposed location of a dispensary in Ridgewood, 55-14 Myrtle Ave., was opposed by the committee due to its proximity to a Jewish Center on 55-39 Myrtle Ave.

OCM’s Guidance for Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries also states a dispensary cannot be within 200 feet of a house of worship.

Committee members were open to making a motion to approve the site, under the condition that operating hours were altered, but its proximity to the religious institution halted any approval.

In Glendale, the applications for 64-40 Myrtle Ave. and 71-05 Myrtle Ave. were opposed by the committee due to the issues shared with another location of a proposed cannabis dispensary site that was next to the McDonald’s drive-through on Myrtle Avenue.

The owner of the Mobil gas station, located on the proposed site addresses, was represented at the committee by his son, who said they would be willing to withdraw from 64-40 Myrtle Ave. and would be open to the discretion of the committee.

The committee voted unanimously not to object to the proposed dispensary site on 78-10 Cypress Ave. Different from some of the other proposed sites coming to the committee, this location is seeking approval for a dispensary site as an adult-use microbusiness. Microbusinesses are authorized to grow, process, sell and deliver their own cannabis products, according to the OCM.

Jose Verdague, a cultivator license holder and consultant, representing Bunkers Hemp LLC and Legacy Growers, said the business hopes to grow some product on-site in an effort to educate people on cannabis.

During the public comment period of the night, those in attendance shared a splintered outlook on dispensaries in Ridgewood and Glendale.

Maspeth resident Evgeniya Fletcher talked about how the lack of enforcement against the illegal shops in the neighborhood is cause for concern and although applicants promise security, she wonders why not choose sites other than residential areas.

“Honestly, I haven’t seen one disrespectful person here today. Everybody is very nice. With all due respect, you guys are very nice. But maybe we should just wait,” Fletcher said.

Community member Diego Leclery argued in favor of cannabis coming to the neighborhood and said the level of scrutiny being given to cannabis is disproportional in comparison to other vices known to cause harm, such as alcohol.

“Kids are significantly more interested in consuming alcohol and significantly more at risk of killing themselves, killing a friend, right? Okay, so let’s be serious here. Alcohol kills kids,” Leclery said.

The decisions made by the committee to oppose or not object to the dispensaries will be heard at the next Community Board 5 meeting, where the board’s final recommendation will be heard.

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