Written by Wendy Kreitzman Friday, 04 October 2013 00:00
In order to avoid businesses seeking permits for possible smoking-related establishments in the Village of Great Neck Plaza, the mayor and the board of trustees are seeking a moratorium that would enable them to take the time to do an analysis of businesses in the downtown area. Plaza Mayor Jean Celender reports that the village has applied to the Nassau County Planning Commission, requesting comments on the plan for an eight-month moratorium on conditional use permits to on-site smoking businesses.
The proposed law states that the village found that many studies “documented the harm that is caused by smoking tobacco products” and that there are “other smoking activities which appear to be comparably harmful yet which may be insufficiently regulated.” The moratorium cites that hookah smoking “appears” to be associated with medical conditions, suggesting that “cigarette smoking and hookah smoking have similar effects …”
The moratorium law also reports that the American Cancer Society has stated that “water pipes (hookah) smoking is just as risky as smoking cigarettes,” and that the World Health Organization “determined” that smoke from water pipes contains numerous “toxicants” that are known to cause many diseases, such as lung cancer and heart disease.
Plaza officials are seeking to serve the public “health, safety and welfare” by establishing this temporary moratorium on issuing permits and/or approvals by the village to businesses that “derive any portion of their revenue from on-site smoking activities” that are defined in the moratorium. And the moratorium states that pretty much all types of smoking or smoking-related products are included.
Celender said the board needs the time to analyze the entire smoking and smoking related possibilities and they need to look at surrounding businesses and determine impacts if smoking and smoking-related businesses of any kind were permitted. The village, along with neighboring villages with business districts, are now seeking to revitalize Great Neck business areas and so Celender wants to assure that only businesses that benefit these areas are permitted.
Celender is also concerned regarding impacts on young people if smoking related businesses are permitted. “This is a slippery slope,” she stated. “We don’t have enough information as to what is truly happening,” the mayor added.
The Nassau County Planning Commission has 30 days to reply, but the mayor told the Great Neck Record that an answer will most likely be in their hands by their Oct. 4 board of trustees meeting. The commission may approve, disapprove or leave it to local determination. Celender said that for such a short moratorium, she is confident that the commission will approve. Even if the commission does not approve the moratorium, the village board may over-rule, and approve the moratorium, with a majority-plus-one vote of approval.