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Local civic group protests medical marijuana dispensary site

On Tuesday, the Millbrook Gables Civic Association presented the Riverhead Town Board with a letter and petition signed by 51 people who are against a new proposed location for a medical marijuana dispensary.

The location, which has not yet been formally announced, is in a medical office building at 1333 East Main St., which is currently home to Eastern Long Island Hematology/Oncology.

A letter from Millbrook Gables Civic Association vice president Gwen Mack was read during the meeting by Larry Williams. The association’s petition was presented by Keisha Washington-Dean.

“We, the friends of Millbrook Gables Civic Association, are strongly against the establishment of the medical marijuana dispensary across from Millbrook Gables,” the petition reads.

Millbrook Gables is situated northwest of East Main Street and south of Route 58. It includes Segal Avenue, Phillips Avenue and Lewis Street.

The petition comes about a month after a public hearing on a one-year moratorium for town medical marijuana dispensaries, something the Town Board has yet to vote on. The board suggested the moratorium after Columbia Care LLC was given approval by the New York State Department of Health to open a dispensary on Route 58 at the site of the former Blockbuster Video.

Supervisor Sean Walter said 1333 East Main St. was suggested by a group led by Peconic Bay Medical Center president and CEO Andrew Mitchell, who offered to help find a new dispensary location for Columbia Care.

The former Blockbuster location, which would be the site of the only medical marijuana dispensary in Suffolk County, met opposition from town officials for being too close to Riverhead High School and for being in a congested area of Route 58. However, several people at last month’s public hearing testified that medical marijuana — which will not be permitted in smokable form — is needed. They urged the town to permit the site to open.

Columbia Care officials say they are required by the state to open the dispensary by Jan. 1.

“As homeowners and parents of children who live in the Millbrook Gables neighborhood, we have concerns about a medical marijuana dispensary being located across the street from a neighborhood which has approximately 60 homes, specifically a children’s park where dozens of children play,” reads Ms. Mack’s letter.

Mr. Walter said the Town Board is expected to discuss whether it would enact the proposed moratorium at Thursday’s work session.

The majority of speakers at the moratorium hearing were opposed to it and in favor of medical marijuana. Many said they suffered or had family members who suffered from diseases, such as epilepsy and cancer, that medical marijuana could have helped them with.

Councilman John Dunleavy said he favored the 1333 East Main St. location because it’s not on Route 58; Councilman George Gabrielsen said he opposed it because of its proximity to a playground.

A spokesperson for Columbia Care initially thought they would be on the agenda at last Thursday’s work session, but they were not. When asked by phone and email about the East Main Street location, the spokesman did not respond.

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