Smoke shop seeks variance for parking in Albion at former flower shop location

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2024 at 6:27 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The D & R Smoke Shop in Albion has been stalled in opening because the site needs at least 7 dedicated parking spots for the business at 139 South Main St.

ALBION – A new smoke shop was ready to open last month at 139 South Main St., the former site for Bloom’s Flower Shop.

But D & R Smoke Shop couldn’t open because the site doesn’t have at least 7 dedicated parking spaces, which are separate from the spots for residents in the apartments at the building.

Mohammed Ayash, the D & R Smoke Shop owner, said there are at least 5 dedicated spots for the smoke shops, and he thinks he has 7.

The issue was brought before the Village of Albion Zoning Board of Appeals today. That board set a 4 p.m. public hearing for July 18 at the Village Hall to allow D & R to not have seven dedicated spots.

Ayash noted there is a large parking lot next door for a laundromat and a thrift store. Across the street in another large lot for Hoag Library.

But Ayash said the spots by D & R should be enough. The store won’t be high traffic. He expects only one or two customers at a time. The store will sell tobacco, vaping products and CBD. There won’t be any THC or Delta 9 available.

Chris Kinter, the village code enforcement officer, said he counts nine current spots, but some are dedicated to the tenants for apartments. That would leave 5 for the smoke shop, Kinter said during the ZBA meeting.

Ayash is a Buffalo resident. He said he would like to move with his family to Albion.

“This is a beautiful town,” he said after the meeting. “We try to serve the community.”

The ZBA also voted to refer the variance request to the Orleans County Planning Board for its advisory opinion. The County Planning Board meets 7 p.m. on June 27.

In another matter, the ZBA voted to deny a variance request for the owner of a house at 255-257 East State St. Sean Huff recently acquired the house, which has been a three-unit apartment. However, the previous owner died, and the site should revert back to a two-family house, which is what it is zoned for.

Huff asked the ZBA to give a variance to allow the sites to continue as a three-family dwelling.

But Craig Tuohey, the ZBA chairman, said he doesn’t support spot zoning, where there would be one multi-family zoned property in an R-2 district that allows two-family housing.

Huff said the house already has three entrances, three porches, 3 ½ bathrooms, three kitchens, and at least six on-site parking spaces. It exists as the three-unit house.

Keeping the site as three units also keeps one more housing option available in Albion, where Huff said there is currently only one available apartment being advertised.

Tuohey and the other ZBA didn’t back the variance. Tuohey suggested Huff try the Planning Board or Village Board to see if the zoning could be changed to multi-family so a variance wouldn’t be needed.