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Friday, June 21, 2024

Schenectady Reconsiders Proposed Three-Month Moratorium on Smoke Shops


SCHENECTADY — The ⁣City Council ‍of Schenectady is once again considering a ‌proposal‌ to impose a temporary ban ‌on ‌the opening of new smoke shops within the city limits. The council is leaning towards implementing a ⁤three-month moratorium.

Last summer, the⁢ council contemplated a six-month moratorium, but decided ​to postpone the proposal ‌in October. Instead, they chose to allow the city’s code enforcement ​department to take action against smoke‍ shops operating without the ‍necessary certificate of use.

During the City Development and Planning Committee meeting on Monday ⁤night, Councilwoman Doreen Ditoro, a staunch advocate for the moratorium, brought up the idea of a six-month halt once ‌again.

Despite her advocacy ​for⁣ a longer period, the council is leaning towards a‌ three-month moratorium, with the⁢ possibility of extension if ​necessary.

“This ⁣is⁣ certainly a victory ‌for the city,” Ditoro expressed⁤ on Wednesday. “I’m satisfied with the three months, and if it’s legally ​permissible and ​other departments need more time, we can always extend it.”

On Wednesday, Ditoro pointed out‍ that the rapid​ increase of ‍smoke shops in the city, while the council is still‌ working on zoning restrictions, was the reason behind her reintroducing the proposal.

“The constant emergence of new shops in various neighborhoods‌ was concerning,” she explained. “Many of these ​shops are clearly not‍ in compliance. Code enforcement has⁣ already inspected most of them and the shops ​have made no effort ⁣to comply, so I ‍felt it was necessary to revisit the issue.”

The full council will cast their votes on the proposed three-month moratorium ⁣during its meeting on‍ Monday.

The moratorium,​ however, will not affect Upstate Canna⁣ Co.,⁣ the city’s ⁣only ⁤cannabis dispensary, or any future dispensaries.

Last July, the council started looking‌ into zoning restrictions for both smoke shops and cannabis dispensaries.⁢ Progress on a draft‌ zoning map was temporarily halted due to a change in ​the city’s corporation counsel office, when Maxine Barasch replaced Andrew Koldin in January.

The new team in the counsel’s‍ office will prepare a draft for smoke ⁤shops zoning that includes the council’s previous suggestions while⁤ the moratorium is in effect.

“Given the recent staffing changes, I believe it’s appropriate for Ms. Ditoro to revisit the idea of proceeding with the moratorium,” Councilman Carl Williams said ​during‌ the Monday meeting. “It gives the corporation counsel [Barasch] a chance to familiarize herself with our zoning.”

Councilman John Mootooveren, ⁤who was against the six-month moratorium last fall, arguing ‍that code enforcement ‌efforts should be given more time, stated on Monday that ‌he would support a three-month moratorium.

“We already ⁢have ⁢the [zoning map] draft, so​ three months is a reasonable time for us to revisit the ​issue and⁤ move forward with it,” Mootooveren said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy stated⁣ that city code enforcement officers are persistently working‌ to ensure smoke shops comply with regulations.

“The transition from marijuana being illegal to‌ a more tolerant stance has been approached differently by different ⁤people. Some are fully compliant while others continue ‍to push boundaries,” he ⁣said. “We’re collaborating with the staff and city council to establish⁣ rules that are sensible and beneficial for⁢ the city as a whole.”

Juniper Li
Juniper Li
Juniper Li, with her roots in documentary filmmaking, brings a unique narrative style to local news reporting. A graduate of NYU’s Journalism program, Ava has a keen eye for stories that capture the essence of community life. Her reporting often highlights local achievements and challenges, drawing on her experience in visual storytelling.
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  1. Agree The proposed moratorium on smoke shops is a necessary step towards addressing the potential health risks and negative impact on the community. Schenectady should carefully consider the implications before allowing any new smoke shops to open.

  2. Disagree. A three-month moratorium on smoke shops may hinder business growth and limit consumer options. Schenectady should instead focus on regulating and educating rather than prohibiting.


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