Riverhead town board approves retail cannabis plan

On Tuesday, the Riverhead Town Board unanimously voted to approve the zoning it recently created in an attempt to increase available retail sites for the sale and on-sight consumption of cannabis in the town.

The new zoning creates five commercial corridors along Route 25 and County Road 58 where recreational marijuana can be sold. 

The town board had originally approved a zoning plan that only allowed for four such locations.

The revised map approved Tuesday upped that number to 144 potential sites.

The town also received a new proposal Tuesday for a cannabis dispensary at the site of a former bank on Ostrander Avenue, but the developers behind that proposal also asked town officials to put a halt the plans it just approved. 

Tuesday’s town board meeting started with a Zoom presentation from attorney Andrew Schriever of Prince Lobel Tye LLP, a law firm that specializes in cannabis zoning. 

The firm was representing T&E. Co. Inc. in connection with its pursuit of a licensed cannabis dispensary at 1201 Ostrander Ave. 

Mr. Schriever said that on Tuesday morning, “we submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the state Office of Cannabis Management” asking both the OCM and the town to temporarily refrain from taking action relative to the new zoning. The premises sought by T&E consists of a former bank with its own off-street parking lot. It has been suggested as a potential cannabis dispensary several other times in the past year. 

Mr. Schriever said his main goal was to ask the town to refrain from taking action on approving its cannabis zoning until after the OCM reviews it. 

“We’re asking to slow down the process a bit,” Mr. Schriever said. 

He said that by moving forward with the new proposed zoning, the town would “disrupt our client’s ability to move forward,” and have unreasonable impact on most or all cannabis candidates looking to locate in the area.

Town officials wouldn’t budge, and eventually approved the new zoning. 

Deputy town attorney Anne Marie Prudenti said that town planner Matt Charters had done the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SCQRA) review of the town’s updated plan. 

Hugo Rivas, the vice chair of the Long Island Cannabis Coalition, thanked the town board for approving the legislation. 

Not everyone was happy. John McAuliff, a regular at town board meetings, said he believe the majority of Riverhead residents do not support the sale of recreational cannabis. Supervisor Tim Hubbard said the town hosted several public meetings and issued surveys before proceeding with its plans once marijuana sales were declared legal in New York state in March of 2021.