ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A newly opened smoke shop on Lake Avenue is drawing criticism due to its location. It sits directly across the street from school No. 42, Abelard Reynolds elementary school.
The City of Rochester said that they recently learned the store had been selling cannabis, and it has since been issued a letter of “cease and desist.”
In the meantime, councilmember Jose Peo — who represents the Northwest District where Mad Flavors is located — said he’s looking to get ahead of these kinds of issues.
“It’s obnoxious it’s not what the community wants. They’ve spoken up numerous times. I believe they don’t even have a permit to be operating there. So the signage is not permitted, the business is not permitted. The community has real concerns,” Peo explained.
Shops like this one are becoming a trend the councilmember finds to be rapidly growing in his community.
“We’ve got three smoke shops maybe a mile that way so we have quite a few smoke shops in this community already,” he said. “And it seems as if the smoke shops are the new ‘bodegas’ where it’s just going to pop up on every corner, and that’s not what we want in this community. That’s not what we want in the Northwest.”
On November 16, the City of Rochester responded to inquiries from News 8, confirming this business has two code violations: lack of required business permit, and an unapproved business sign. The City also confirms it recently learned Mad Flavors was selling cannabis, which remains illegal unless granted special licensure from the state.
“We have recently adopted zoning laws that would allow businesses, once they are licensed by the state as dispensaries, to then sell at certain locations within the City of Rochester,” explained Linda Kingsley, the City’s Corporation Counsel.
There are no limits to the number of the same kind of businesses that can open in an area within zoning laws in Rochester. This situation with Mad Flavors is prompting Councilmember Peo to look into what, if any, powers district representatives have when it comes to new business proposals.
“When a business permit comes up in front of us, in front of the city, and they say, ‘Hey I want to open up this kind of store in this area, I want the district members to be able to say, you know what, we should be able to have the final say in our district — of what businesses go where because we are just, right now, allowing everything and anything,” Peo said.
“I don’t mean any ill-will toward that store for that location,” he added. “I don’t want them to go under and, you know, their families hurt. But, I want there to be a system in place where I can say, we just don’t want that smoke shop right here […] how bout we relocate to over here and then you can still make that money to pay for your own bills and take care of your own family.”
Mad Flavors has not granted a response to multiple calls or attempts to obtain a statement or interview.
The City’s Corporation Counsel tells us with much of the regulation about cannabis coming from the state, the city is approaching classifying “dispensaries” — where you would purchase and consume off-site — as retail stores, whereas “consumption lounges” will be under “bars and alcohol.”
The state does have a 200-foot distance requirement for churches and a 500-foot distance requirement for schools for marijuana dispensaries.
“The one real distinction to that is that the State set forth certain distance requirements for schools and churches and even if you’re in a legal area to have a retail store, if you’re within those distance requirements for schools or churches then you wouldn’t be able to have a dispensary there. But that’s a regulation the state put in place that we can’t touch,” Kingsley explains.
Current laws pertaining to Tobacco & Vapor products in NYS can be found here.