Rochester plans a crackdown on problem convenience stores, the Democrat and Chronicle reports. The stores can be magnets for drug dealers and loiterers. They illegally sell loose cigarettes or drug paraphernalia. Some engage in welfare fraud. Some sell expired and unhealthy food. Some sell diapers individually, a tremendous markup for poor people.
Through zoning, code and police enforcement, the city wants to get a grip on the issue. The number of convenience stores is going up. On Sunday, the D&C’‘s Brian Sharp wrote a very detailed story on what’s going on, estimating there are 350 corner stores in the city:
How to clean up the bad stores, support the good ones and, at the same time, encourage more healthy offerings is a challenge no city appears to have solved.
At City Hall, an emerging plan would tighten enforcement and only allow corner stores into residential areas if they offer fresh produce and limit their offering of tobacco, alcohol and lottery to one but not all. Stores that sell all three might be relegated to major commercial corridors and prohibited from locating within 500 feet of each other.
At City Council suggestion, Rochester also is considering whether to require sales tax returns for business permits to ensure the shop is on the up and up, and looking at ways to take on tobacco and alcohol license enforcement the state could be doing.
Chicago may revoke business licenses of corner stores.
In communities where people are poor and don’t have cars, convenience stores fill a need. The USDA has an interactive map showing food deserts in the country. Zoom into Rochester, and you’ll see there are census tracts where 100 percent of the residents live more than one mile away from a grocery store.
Links of the Day:
- The Democrat and Chronicle published a provocative op-ed from a woman who thinks MADD has too much power and anti-booze laws are too strict.
- Niagara Falls is the victim of a really bad casino deal crafted by the Senecas and the state.
- A raise for state lawmakers? The Albany Times Union says they deserve a pay cut.
- There’s a helium shortage and it’s affecting Upstate New York balloon sales.