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After neighborhood campaign, garish sign outside rogue Brooklyn Heights smoke shop is removed

Sign or not, shop is now open

February 16, 2022 Mary Frost, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Business owners took down a garish sign advertising the weed-themed “Exotic Smoke Shop” at 64 Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights following an outcry from neighbors and action by the Brooklyn Heights Association, numerous officials and city agencies.

The Exotic Smoke Shop’s signage featured a grinning skull, and at night, neon-colored, flashing lights illuminated the storefront. Brooklyn Heights is landmarked, and the signage broke NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission rules.

Brooklyn Heights Association’s Lara Birnback told the Brooklyn Eagle last week that the neighborhood organization had received “numerous calls” from concerned neighbors. The shop is within a block or two of an elementary school and a preschool.

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This sign, which broke landmarks regulations, was removed by the shop.

Neighbors like Pia Scala-Zankel expressed sympathy for nearby businesses abiding by Landmarks regulations, like Le French Tart Deli and Noodle Pudding. “The landlords care, the proprietors care. On this place, they slapped up a sign, and the landlord doesn’t care.”

But even landlord Joel Radmin told the Eagle last week that the sign, apparently greenlighted by the property manager, was out of place in a landmarked district like Brooklyn Heights.

In response, Councilmember Lincoln Restler’s office reached out to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), since no record could be found of commercial applications. “We’ve been all over it,” Restler told the Eagle. LPC sent the property owners two warning letters on Jan. 31.

Despite the lack of signage, the smoke shop, filled with bongs, rolling papers, lighters and other cannabis paraphernalia, is now open. Several customers drifted into the shop on Tuesday. Before selling items, an employee asked if the customers were 21.

The cannabis-themed smoke shop may no longer have a sign, but it is open for business anyway. On Tuesday, several customers drifted in to check out the bongs, rolling papers, weed stashes and other paraphernalia.

The shop expects to stay open until 3 a.m. most nights, the employee said.

New York state has decriminalized recreational marijuana for adults, but actual weed sales remain illegal until the state finishes its regulation process, estimated to take six months to a year.

On Feb. 8, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management sent letters ordering more than two dozen businesses suspected of illegally selling or gifting cannabis to “cease and desist those operations or risk the opportunity to get a license in the legal market as well as substantial fines and possible criminal penalties.”

The cannabis-themed smoke shop may no longer have a sign, but it is open for business anyway. On Tuesday, several customers drifted in to check out the bongs, rolling papers, weed stashes and other paraphernalia.

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