A village resident has launched a petition drive against a local smoke shop, saying it is not the right kind of business for Scotia.
Gail Riecke said she moved to the village about six years ago because of its homey small-town feeling. She believes businesses such as the smoke shop are hurting its image.
She recently was walking downtown with her children and saw the display of bongs for sale at Dabb City Smoke Shop at 125 Mohawk Ave. She then walked by Collins Park and saw youths smoking marijuana during the middle of the day.
Smoke shops shouldn’t be selling paraphernalia such as bongs, Riecke said, which she believes can only be used for illicit substances.
“Old men who were smoking tobacco on their back porch are not buying a bong to smoke it in. There’s nothing else you buy a bong for,” she said.
As of Tuesday evening, she said she had about 100 signatures on the petition seeking removal of the store, which she is planning to present to the Scotia Board of Trustees at its meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Village Hall.
Dabb City Smoke Shop has been in the news recently as business owner Donald Andrews had cocaine charges against him dropped by the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office because its confidential informant proved to not be credible. Andrews had sold him only two legal pipes; the drugs the informant said Andrews sold him came from the informant’s own pants.
Riecke said her concerns are independent of that recent criminal case. She said the store is selling items with images of marijuana leaf on them and she believes businesses such as these attract the wrong type of customers.
“We’re just inviting that kind of criminal element,” she said.
She said the landlord should seek a better tenant for the building. The property is owned by First National Bank of Scotia.
The village downtown now has smoke shops and pawn shops, which Riecke thinks will drag down its reputation.
After being informed about the petition, Andrews said he is a legal, taxpaying establishment.
“There’s multiple places on Mohawk [Avenue] that sell tobacco products. There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said.
He said he follows all the proper procedures including checking identification of people that come in the door to make sure they are at least 18 years old.
“I feel that a lot of Scotia residents come into the store and support the store and I just don’t see the reason for the petition,” he said.
Mayor Kris Kastberg said there is not much village officials can do. The Board of Trustees does not approve businesses.
“It’s not legal for us to say you can have this kind of business but you can’t have this,” he said.
The only exception to that is adult entertainment and stores that sell pornography, he said.
Kastberg said there are other businesses in the village that sell the type of paraphernalia that worries Riecke.
The types of businesses coming in is a matter of simple economics, according to Kastberg, tenants who are willing to rent the space from the landlords.
“It’s not the business that I would choose if I had the ability to choose businesses that came into the village,” he said.
However, Kastberg said he hopes that the proprietors of these business realize that they are not going to get away with any illegal activity in Scotia. The village has its own police force, which just shut down one pawn shop for selling stolen merchandise.
People may have the mistaken impression that because Scotia is a sleepy little village, they can get away with crime, according to Kastberg.
“What a great place to run a pawn shop to take stolen merchandise because who’s going to be watching?” he said. “The fact is we are watching.”