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Community Board 5 split over recommendation to resist proposed Middle Village cannabis dispensary

Jul. 13, 2023 By Anthony Medina

Queens Community Board 5 members are evenly split regarding the board’s recommendation to oppose a proposed adult-use cannabis dispensary in Middle Village at a July 12 board meeting inside Christ the King High School.

The board revisited the motion to challenge the proposed location of The Cannabis Place — a legal adult-use cannabis dispensary applying for a storefront on 74-03 Metropolitan Ave. — from its last meeting in June.

District Manager Gary Giordano re-introduced the discussion and read a letter he penned to the New York State Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management.

In the letter, Giordano asked the two agencies for an extension to submit the board’s recommendations and he listed concerns raised at and before last month’s meeting.

The concerns as stated in the letter include:

  • That the proposed site is less than 500 ft from the positive Beginnings Preschool which is located at 72-52 Metropolitan Avenue;
  • That the location in question is in the prime part of the Metropolitan Avenue shopping area, where children and teenagers walk to and from school, and where young people go to eat and Shop with their parents and loved ones;
  • That the adjacent residential Community could be adversely impacted by the proposed cannabis retail dispensary being close to homes;
  • That this proposed dispensary will bring significantly more vehicular traffic to an already very congested commercial area;
  • That this proposed site for a retail cannabis dispensary may also be considered as the base for a cannabis delivery business and for a smoking room;
  • That people who would be buying cannabis at this location May too often choose to smoke what they have purchased on and adjacent to Metropolitan Avenue.

The vote on the motion for the board to go against the proposed location of The Cannabis Place was evenly split (19 votes for and 19 votes against). Membership brought up several questions before casting their votes, including how OCM measures the distance from a dispensary to a school. Some also wanted to know what OCM classifies as a school.

The OCM does not specify what is the determining factor for a school on its website.

Prior to the vote, board members showed confusion over a motion, set forth by board member Paul Kerzner, to prohibit the sale of cannabis.

Kerzner asked for the board to recommend the prohibition of the sale of cannabis products, but after some confusion over what the board would be voting on, the motion was changed for the board to recommend cannabis be illegal altogether. There were five yes votes and 33 no votes. Kurzner voted no to his own motion.

In other businesses, the board heard from Michaels Funeral Home Owner Michael Roemmelt regarding issues with TAJ Village, located at 79-28 Metropolitan Ave., where there’s allegedly an excess in garbage, loud noise at all hours of the night and a blatant disregard for neighbors. Roemmelt asked that the board not renew their liquor license. District Manager Giordano added he’s heard the business might be gone soon due to a lack in rent payments.

Paul Pogozelski, president of the Middle Village Players Roller Hockey League, alongside his son Paul, spokes directly to CB 5 about its official start date on Saturday, Sept. 9.Photo by Anthony Medina

Paul Pogozelski, president of the Middle Village Players Roller Hockey League, alongside his son Paul, spoke directly to the board about its official start date on Saturday, Sept. 9. Pogozelski also said the League accumulated enough kids to make four teams and plans to start receiving sponsorships sometime in August.

Among other discussions for the night, including a report from the Parks Committee and the Transportation and Public Safety Committee, residents spoke on a growing number of spotted lantern flies seen in neighborhoods and in Juniper Valley Park. There was also concern shared over public safety with issues originating from a nearby homeless shelter and catalytic converter thefts.

There were no elected officials present, but representatives from several offices were made available and briefed the crowd on upcoming events. Community Board 5 does not usually meet in August and its next meeting will be on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

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