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Applicants should attend meetings in person if they want local support for a license for their businesses, board says

South Bronx cannabis dispensaries looking for community board support for license applications may see those hopes go up in smoke if they don’t show up for meetings with the board. 

Not a single owner from the six dispensaries that applied to Community Board 1 for a cannabis license appeared at the most recent gathering on Feb. 22. 

The no-shows upset several members of the Economic Development, Land Use, Housing & Zoning Committee. The committee is the first step in the local recommendation process that culminates when a community board makes a final recommendation to either the State Liquor Authority or the Office of Cannabis Management.  

While community board approval is not required for the state to issue a liquor or cannabis license, local support is considered an important factor by both agencies. 

The majority of the members of the Economic Development, Land Use, Housing & Zoning Committee voted against approving all the cannabis license applications at the February meeting. Without owners present to answer questions about how they planned to fit into local communities, the members said they didn’t have enough information to form a reasonable opinion, according to member Dalourney Nemourin, who delivered the meeting’s report.  

That decision was backed by Board 1’s Chairperson Clarisa Alayeto at the meeting. 

“I agree with the committee because we need to get serious about people showing up to the community board to present when they ask for a liquor license,” she said. 

The board also voted to recommend against two cannabis dispensary applicants for different reasons. 

An application from Milk Burger on 148 Bruckner Boulevard was rejected because it’s within 500 feet of South Bronx Charter on East 133rd Street, the committee said.  

The application from J & J Merch at 516 Timpson Place was also rejected because of a history of 311 complaints, the committee said. Background checks were run on all the dispensary and liquor license applicants, courtesy of Danny Lopez, a community affairs officer with the 40th Precinct. 

The board also passed a motion to recommend all but two of the requested liquor licenses. The two denials were based on a lack of information and lack of attendance from the business owners. One of the rejected applications was for a renewal license at an existing restaurant.

Not all board members agreed with the decision to deny license recommendations to business owners who didn’t appear at the meeting. Longtime member Freddie Perez said the consequences may be too steep for local entrepreneurs, especially those with a good track record in their communities.  

“If you have a restaurant that’s been in your neighborhood for 10 years and the guy is going to renew his liquor license, the fact that he didn’t show up to the committee… What does that mean?” Perez said. 

A restaurant that loses its liquor license will probably end up shutting down, he said, since alcohol sales are usually a significant source of revenue. 

Committee and board members said they want to make it clear to current and potential business owners that they need to show up to the community board meetings when liquor or cannabis licenses are under review.

The other cannabis dispensaries that applied for approval and were denied as no-shows include Flava Kingz Genetics on 280 Rider Ave., Cannabis Station Corp. at 87 E. 161 St., South Bronx Group LLC at 708 E 138th St., Fraser Enterprise LLC at 358 E. 149th St, and Milk Burger Inc. at 148 Bruckner Blvd.

Most of the business owners did not respond to requests for comment. Candice Lozada, the owner of South Bronx Group LLC, said that she didn’t attend the meeting because she had received no notice of it.   

Board 1’s District Manager Anthony Jordan said an invitation to appear is sent to whatever email is provided on the application as soon as the form is received by the board. The notice usually gives applicants about 30 days notice before the next committee meeting, he said.  

The New York State Liquor Authority said its members review each application on a case-by-case basis. The Authority’s board meetings are open to the public and applicants or individuals can attend and give testimony, even if their local community board has not recommended them for a license. 

“They weigh the merits of an individual application while placing due weight on the recommendations of local law enforcement, municipal officials, and members of the community,” said SLA spokesperson Patrick Garrett.

The Office of Cannabis Management did not respond to a request for comment.

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