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Rye Landmarks Committee Looks to Save Smoke Shop

RYE, N.Y. - On Wednesday evening inside the Mayor's Conference room, the eight-person Landmarks Advisory Committee will meet and discuss how to save TD"s Rye Smoke Shop from being repurposed by the building's owner.

"The Smoke Shop,"as it is affectionately known by citizens of Rye, has been a staple in downtown for decades. In April, the shop's operators, Tony and Peggy D'Onofrio, received a letter saying their lease would not be renewed.

At a May 9 City Council meeting, Rye residents Owen and Amber Nee presented a petition of more than 600 signatures to the council and implored them to explore saving the shop. In a little more than three weeks, that petition has grown to 1,872 signatures. Nee said a copy of the signatories was sent to the building's owner.

The city's attorney, Kristen Wilson, said there has been a misconception about what the city's code permits in the way of landmarking buildings.

"Our city code does require the owner's consent unless it's on the National Register of historic places," Wilson said. "We do need the owner's consent to move forward with landmarking a portion or some part of the building."

Landmarks Committee Chair George "Jack" Zahringer said he hopes that, if the council is willing, providing the building owner with a 10-year tax break known as the "Ithaca law" might convince the owner to landmark the building.

"This is a way we could persuade a building owner to do this. I have to say quite frankly most building owners don't care too much about our historic preservation," Zahringer said. "I'm going to present this to see if we can get a dollars and cents things going."

Zahringer also said the committee, along with the chamber of commerce, will explore turning a portion of downtown Rye into an historic business district.

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