New York State Liquor Authority hears neighbor’s concerns of east side liquor store

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Neighbors on Buffalo’s east side are fighting plans to turn the former Gigi’s restaurant into a liquor store. People living in the Masten District met with the New York State Liquor Authority Monday.

“Putting the liquor store there will make the area crazier than what it already is,” said Jaylah Bell, a Girl Scout who lives in the Masten District with her family.

“We don’t need it,” said another neighbor.

No liquor store at the former Gigi’s location, or anywhere else. That’s the message people living in the Masten district have for anyone trying to bring another liquor store into their neighborhood.

“We don’t want people building businesses in our neighborhood that don’t care about what’s good for us,” said Jaylah.

They were able to bring their concerns face to face, to David Edmunds Monday. He’s the Deputy Commissioner for the State Liquor Authority.

“Why do we have to wait until we are where we are right now? Why are we not informed that this person wants to open a store in the community and we would like to know what the voices of the community are,” asked another neighbor during the meeting.

Common Council member Ulysees Wingo sent a letter to the state back in April opposing a possible liquor store.

Edmunds says the state just received the new owner’s liquor license application last month. He says this is the very beginning of a detailed process.

“We think it’s important that the community know and understand that process as well as understand that they have a voice and a role in that process,” said David Edmunds, deputy commissioner of New York State Liquor Authority.

Neighbors say there’s already a liquor store about two blocks away.

“Really when you say serving the community, oh we’re being served alright,” voiced another concerned neighbor.

But Edmunds says there’s nothing in the Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC, law that stops liquor stores from being close to each other.  He says that leaves the question.

“Is the community being adequately served by the liquor stores that are presently operating in this community?” said Edmunds.

It’s a question he says the full SLA board will consider.

Neighbors are now calling for legislation that would limit the number of liquor stores in a particular area and set rules for how close they can be to each other.

The owner’s application will go before the full SLA board next month.

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