By Michael V. Cusenza
More than 300 concerned members of the Howard Beach community attended the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic’s November meeting on Tuesday looking forward to hearing from the applicant of a cannabis dispensary license who is purportedly eyeing a location on Cross Bay Boulevard to open a facility.
Alas, said applicant, Andray Sukhu, was conspicuously absent from Tuesday evening’s proceedings at St. Helen Catholic Academy.
“We knew that this would be a hot topic and believed that most people in Howard Beach are opposed to such a business in our neighborhood. We wanted to give the owner the chance to be transparent with us,” said civic Co-President Barbara McNamara.
Sukhu initially agreed to attend the meeting, but later notified civic Co-President Phyllis Inserillo that he didn’t feel he had to answer questions in advance of being approved for the license.
“We gave him the option, he chose not to take it and is already showing us what type of community partner and business owner he potentially will be by refusing to be transparent and show up in good faith for our residents,” Inserillo said.
After informing the crowd that Sukhu had decided not to attend the confab, and Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton explained the cannabis application process to the crowd, Inserillo asked for a show of hands to see how many people in the audience were opposed to the opening of the business. Hundreds of hands went up. “It was almost unanimous with only one or two people not raising their hand which is exactly what we thought would happen. Our community does not want this business to come to Cross Bay Boulevard or anywhere in 11414,” said Inserillo. She continued by making a promise, “Myself and our civic board will fight this tooth and nail. The applicant and landlord should be prepared for daily protests in front of their building should this establishment try to operate here.”
In a statement, Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park) said that she opposes the placement of a cannabis dispensary at the proposed location on Cross Bay Boulevard (157-02) noting that the area is a busy commercial corridor that is utilized by numerous schoolchildren who take the bus to Rockaway and further up into Queens each day.
Ariola added, “The disastrous State rollout of the cannabis program has created more cause for concern than comfort, and until we have a better understanding of state plans, and the impacts these retailers have on neighborhoods, I cannot support any such establishment within District 32.”
Councilwoman Ariola, State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Woodhaven) and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) have all agreed to write letters of opposition to this cannabis dispensary application.
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