LOCKPORT – A vote on a special use permit for an electronic cigarette store is on Wednesday’s Common Council agenda, but it’s uncertain whether the vote will actually occur.
Because the city Planning Board recommended against Jordan Bork’s request to open an e-cigarette store in the front portion of a hair salon on Walnut Street, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said his research shows that five votes on the six-member Council would be needed to approve the permit.
The problem is that Republican Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick will be away and won’t attend Wednesday’s meeting, while Council President Joseph C. Kibler might have to abstain. If that happens, it will be impossible for Bork’s request to receive five votes.
The site of the store would be in Genewick’s 5th Ward, so under normal Council customs, he would be the sponsor of the resolution if he were at the meeting. But Genewick said at last week’s work session that he probably wouldn’t want to sponsor the permit.
Alderman John Lombardi III, R-1st Ward, stepped in and said he would sponsor the measure, and Alderwoman Kathryn J. “Kitty” Fogle, R-3rd Ward, said she would second it. Alderman Ronald A. Franco, R-2nd Ward, said he would probably vote yes. Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, D-4th Ward, said he knows a neighbor to the store site who is strongly opposed.
“I’m pro-business,” Lombardi said.
“Does it matter what kind of business?” Genewick replied.
Lombardi noted that the Council wouldn’t be voting on the matter at all if the site were zoned for retail business. Kibler said there are four other e-cigarette stores in Lockport, and they are all in retail zones, so the Council never had to deal with them.
Bork’s store would be located inside Hairport, a salon located in a building owned by former Alderman Dennis J. Stachera – who happens to be the chairman of Kibler’s campaign committee.
Kibler, R-at large, questioned whether the city’s new code of ethics would require him to abstain from a vote that could benefit a political associate.
Stachera has said he is considering selling the building. Under city law, the special use permit goes to the building owner, not the business tenant, and if the building changes hands, the permit is canceled.
City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said she’s awaiting a ruling from Ottaviano on whether Kibler must abstain, but she decided to place the permit resolution on Wednesday’s agenda, figuring it would be easier to remove it if necessary than to add it as a late item.