LAKE PLACID – After the city of North Elba and the village of Lake Placid passed local laws making it illegal to license the sale and use of cannabis on-site, they teamed up to look into zoning for cannabis companies – only in case their laws are repealed by a permissive referendum.
The new town / village community “Working group” – formed to assess the local zoning in anticipation of cannabis companies coming to the area – had its first meeting on Monday.
North Elba City Councilor Emily Kilburn Politi said she had received approval to move forward with the group from new Mayor Derek Doty. The group has one agenda item: amending the Joint Land Use Act to accommodate legal cannabis businesses in the event that city and / or villagers repeal opt-out laws passed by the village council and council this month.
Recreational marijuana was legalized nationwide on March 31st, and local governments had until December 31st to enact local laws prohibiting licensing of cannabis dispensaries and / or licenses for local use within their borders.
The opt-out laws are subject to a permissive referendum.
Villagers can petition the laws to vote in a general election. If 20% of villagers who were registered in the last general election sign a petition and move in within 30 days of the board’s opt-out vote on December 20, the laws could be on a ballot, according to the New York conference appear by mayors.
However, unlike city governments, village governments have the option of opting out and then passing a resolution to put their cannabis laws on a special ballot box without the need for a petition. The village council started this process last month. Mayor Art Devlin has repeatedly said that the village council wants the final decision on cannabis to be left to Lake Placid voters. The village council waived with the intention of passing its laws to a special election in March.
Cities, on the other hand, cannot make a decision to put their cannabis laws on a special ballot. Residents have 45 days from the day the city passed the laws to petition to enforce a referendum. If enough townspeople sign a petition – at least 10% of residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election – the laws would appear on the next ballot.
Some city council members, like Kilburn Politi, have opted out so they can assess zoning and other regulations related to cannabis companies, while others, like City Mayor Jay Rand, have opted out of not wanting cannabis companies in town.
The joint cannabis zoning working group includes Kilburn Politi, Village Trustee Jackie Kelly, Lake Placid / North Elba Community Development Director Haley Breen, Town Code Enforcement Officer Michael Orticelle and Town Code Enforcement Official Darci Lafave.
Kilburn Politi said last Thursday that cannabis retail and on-site use shops need to be included as uses in the land use code and that they need to be zoned to define where they can and cannot go.
Kilburn Politi said she envisioned the group defining cannabis companies as conditional use, which would require potential companies to address the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Committee prior to approval.
Kilburn Politi said the Cannabis Control Board – the government agency that grants, withdraws and limits cannabis licenses as needed – would likely look into what the review board normally does: shop lighting, signage, parking lots and architecture, but the CCB has not offered these Manual. She wonders “Why don’t we have our own controls?”
“So you couldn’t draw a giant marijuana leaf on the side of your building.” She said.
Kilburn Politi said Monday that the group had a good discussion and that other members had some suggestions for their drafted amendments to the existing land use law. The group will present its proposals to town and village councils in upcoming sessions this winter and Kilburn Politi said it would wait until then to give details of the proposed changes.
Once the group presents its ideas to the panels and receives feedback from them on the adjustments, Kilburn Politi said the town and village will hold public hearings on the changes before they are finalized.