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Town Board considers forming new committee to make recommendations on marijuana regulations

Riverhead Town Board members say they’d like to have a committee comprised of civic association representatives and others that would make recommendations to the board on marijuana regulations.

The discussion at Thursday’s work session came after the Town Board last month voted down the option to opt out of a state law allowing marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption sites. Now, the town can regulate issues like time, place, manner and saturation restrictions related to the on-site consumption or sale of marijuana.

Councilman Ken Rothwell, who along with Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, voted in favor of opting out, suggested getting input from civic associations throughout the town as board members “put proper legislation in place.”

“Each civic association can appoint someone on their behalf to attend a roundtable discussion to give insight, recommendations, and concerns,” he said. “They should have a say in whether they feel it fits the parameters of their community.”

He said a representative from each of the 10 hamlets in Riverhead could participate.

He also suggested having a representative from the police department, the Community Awareness Program and the Riverhead Central School District.

Because of the number of apartments in downtown, he also suggested a representative from the Business Improvement District.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said it’s ultimately a Town Board decision to decide on regulations.

“What you’re doing is having an advisory group, a mix of people within a community, to discuss it then make recommendations to us to the Town Board?” she asked. 

“If you are gong to designate where it’s going to be sold, I think you should have a representative from that local civic association at the table,” Mr. Rothwell said.

Ms. Kent said she would like to involved in the selection of some of the members if the committee does go forward. She added that the town’s downtown advisory committee has already begun having discussions on the issue of whether to allow marijuana sales and consumption downtown.

Deputy Town Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti said there’s a lot of time, place and manner restrictions that civic representatives could be helpful with, such as keeping marijuana sales and consumption away from schools or playgrounds.  

The board agreed to wait until the civic association members are selected before moving forward with the proposal to have a roundtable discussion.