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Riverhead’s proposed restrictions on marijuana dispensaries set to go before code revision committee

Riverhead Town’s draft regulations on where cannabis use should be allowed were put together with minimal argument or debate.

Councilman Ken Rothwell, who chaired the town’s advisory committee on where cannabis can be permitted, said he thought it was going to be a “tough task” when the committee set out on its task.

“I thought we were going to have people at opposite ends of the spectrum and how were we going to come to an agreement,” he said at Thursday’s work session. “Everybody really worked well together.”

The next step in the process will be for the proposal to go before the town’s code revision committee, according to Deputy Town Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti, who served on the advisory committee.

The state last year allowed for adult recreational consumption, as well as the retail sale of marijuana. The state also allowed municipalities to opt out of the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana. 

However, the Riverhead Town Board chose not to opt out in a 3-2 vote, with Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and Mr. Rothwell being in the minority.

By not opting out, Riverhead is entitled to a portion of tax revenue generated by marijuana sales.

Ms. Prudenti said that under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the town still has the power to regulate “time, place and manner” issues pertaining to marijuana businesses, as well as a saturation limits. 

The town’s cannabis committee has sorted through regulations for time, place and saturation limits

Mr. Rothwell said it discussed issues like distances from churches, schools, parks and so on. The meetings were open to the public.

“The whole idea was to guide the Town Board in decision about retail and on-site consumption,” he said. 

The committee members recommended locations that were farther away from churches, schools etc. than the minimum requirements set by the state, he said.

Most of the land around surrounding residences in places like Polish Town have 1,000-foot or 500-foot recommended buffers between cannabis sales and on-site consumption and retail uses. The draft maps also point out where school, town parks, daycare centers, libraries, community centers, aquariums, hospitals, churches are located. 

Schools, daycare and libraries have proposed 1,000-foot buffers, the largest of the recommended buffers. 

“I appreciate the work that everybody’s put it,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard. “The way you approached this, I think, was awesome.”