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Old Village Seeks New Smoking Ban

The Village of Great Neck will introduce a proposed new law on Oct. 15, one that will call for a six-month moratorium to allow the village time to consider banning a permit for any new business that will permit smoking of any kind on the premises. The plan for a moratorium follows this past summer’s controversy following the permit given for a hookah lounge to open in the historic “wedding cake” building on Middle Neck Road. Village code, written many years ago, permitted, subject to certain conditions, a business such as a hookah lounge, where non-tobacco products are allowed to be smoked. It fell within the definition of a restaurant.

The village’s board of trustees believes that the village needs the time to study this issue, with regard to the health issues caused by smoking not only tobacco products, but non-tobacco products as well. The believe that the health impact on the community must be considered.

A few years ago the village banned smoking on public sidewalks. While tobacco products are covered by the New York State Clean Air Act, smoking non-tobacco products such as the herbal products reportedly used by hookah smokers are not precluded indoors except with limited exceptions. However, research from reputable sources such as the Mayo Clinic state that “hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking.” The World Health Organization has put forth similar information. Health concerns focus on both the smoking and the second hand smoke.

At the village’s Oct. 1 board of trustees meeting, the mayor and the board directed village counsel Steve Limmer to draft the moratorium law, a new law that will be introduced at the next board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15. The six-month moratorium is to prohibit new permits where there is to be smoking on premises as well to preclude permits for the sale of tobacco products and other such “smokeable” products intended to be smoked on the premises.

A similar moratorium to study the same non-tobacco smoking and non-tobacco smoking products is now being considered in the Village of Great Neck Plaza.

Village Rezoning

The board meeting also touched on village planning, begun a few years ago but now in the hands of new consultants. At the meeting, five bills were introduced regarding rezoning for the “core” of Steamboat Road and for most of Middle Neck Road. Village officials are anxious for community feedback and will hold informal discussions and formal hearings. “We need to get a good sense … from developers and from the public,” the mayor said. “What has been proposed by our consultants is not final. We want comments and expect  make changes before we adopt any revised zoning,” he added.

The environmental assessment form is also available for the public to view and the first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7:45 p.m.

Avalon Bay

The proposed rental apartment complex, Avalon Bay, planned for East Shore Road in the Old Village, was also briefly discussed at the meeting. Mayor Kreitzman said that, based on the recommendation of the village’s consultant, additional environmental questions will be addressed to determine if there are “potential adverse environmental impacts which would result from the project.”