The City of Albany Considers Shuttering a Local Store Due to Violence

Man 1: It’s “Quinn & Cantara PYX 106,” 1-800-LAW-1010, Paul Harding on the phone from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Our final discussion with Paul of the year, actually.

Man 2: One of my…an important one.

Man 1: I think so, too, so we follow the news in Albany that there’s been, like, six shootings. A lot of where it’s being instigated or at least some of the beefs are being hammered out is out in front of Delaware grocery. The city and the mayor are maybe thinking about the idea of shutting the store down even though it hasn’t done anything wrong.

Man 1: But shuttering it for a year because it’s a nuisance. I mean, one, is that even legal? Two, no one can survive it, a shuttering, a government-imposed shuttering for a year if you’re a grocery store. Right, Paul?

Paul: Yeah, you know, in effect, that’s just gonna put you out of business. No one’s gonna, as you say, gonna make one year without sales, because all the other expenses that you have, rent, and heat, and insurances are all still gonna be there.

This is an unprecedented, sort of move under this part of the statute. Historically, we’ve got this city nuisance abatements ordinance and didn’t know much about it until this came out, but we see it often where the, you know, the police commissioner will look, and, you know, if there’s drugs being sold and alcohol being sold to underage people, you get points.

If you get enough negative points, then it can fall under the statute. Here, none of that happened. They’re not saying they really did anything wrong. They’re saying they failed to stop the violence, and therefore, under another part of the statute, which is signed by the common council president, they can go ahead and do this. There’s a hearing come up in January, they’re gonna talk about it, but it looks like this is moving forward.

Man 2: When you say they failed to stop the violence, the store? Who are you talking about?

Paul: Yeah, the store, so the owner is just saying, “Hey, look, you own the property, bad things are happening. You needed to do more.” Now, of course, you point is here, “What about the police? What about all these other, you know, city options that are out there?” If the argument isn’t super strong, I mean, you look at this, you wonder if this part of the statute, at least to how it’s being applied, is clearly unconstitutional.

Man 2: There’s a couple of things. I think there’s a bigger problem. It’s not just in Albany, but a lot of these neighborhoods, the franchise stores have pulled out, so, like…

Paul: They have.

Man 2: …you need, you know what I mean, you need formula, you need tampons, you’ve got to go to a store like this. You know what I mean? The other thing is, is according to the story, Churchill’s column, the mayor went door-to-door in the neighborhood, and a lot of the neighborhood residents said, “This is where the problem begins. They wanted it shut.”

Paul: Closing the store is what they said.

Man 2: Could the people speak up enough to shut down a store?

Paul: There’s another part of that statue which says that if you get 50% of the neighbors within 200 feet of the store to sign a petition, then that’s another way that it goes down this road with the store then is put up for a one year closure.

There’s a hearing in a month, and then the public can speak, but of course, you know, I don’t know how many neighbor who would wanna have their name on a petition because it’s public information and maybe there can be some retribution, so they didn’t do that. That would have seemed a little more viable if, you know, neighbors who live there say, “Look, this is my life every night, you know, this is the stuff that’s happening.”

Didn’t do that, went with the common council option. My guess is in January when the hearing’s held, that it’s gonna be enforced, and then again, do these folks have any, you know, what’s your next move? Well, it’s expensive to make a move so they may not be able to make one.

Man 1: Faisal Nagi, his uncle, Abdo Nagi, who purchased the store 20 years ago. This is some pretty interesting stuff when people shoot each other, what does it have to do with us? His uncle’s store doesn’t sell guns or drugs often sold on the block.

They don’t sell those, nor is he responsible for any of the trends that have made West Hill what it is today. The store didn’t create a lack of jobs or poor schools. It didn’t create the abandoned buildings or the disillusioned young men with so little regard for human rights.

Man 2: That’s my point.

Man 1: It sold tampons and getting condoms and beer, and stuff that people needed every day.

Paul: You know, I get what they’re trying to do here, but they may have just… This piece of the statute may just be going a little too far.

Man 1: American dream.

Man 2: One last quick question, Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Let’s say that they are able to shut down the store for a year, is the city liable for any compensation for the store owner or employees who lose their job?

Paul: I couldn’t find that in the statue, so I’m going to assume no. They just shut down, and they gotta find a way to survive for…if in one year they’re still around, they can then apply to open. Then, of course, you got to go through the city, and you gotta make an application, and then they’re gonna, you know, either approve or disapprove your [crosstalk 00:04:35] of the store.

Man 1: Clearly the business is there. They’ve been around for 20 years. You know what I mean.

Man 2: Just think you’re blaming a store for biggest problems in society.

Man 1: Thanks to Cantara find this story. If you didn’t read Churchill, I would never have heard about it.

Man 2: It’s a heavy topic. We appreciate you weighing in, Paul. Have a great…

Paul: Sure.

Man 2: …holiday and Happy New Year. Okay.

Paul: Thanks, guys. We’ll talk to you next year.

Man 2: You got it.

Man 1: You got it, Paul. See ya.

Paul: All right, bye-bye.

Man 1: Paul Harding, 1-800-LAW-1010,

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