Wellsville Village Board

Wellsville Village Board members on Tuesday weighed opting in or out of allowing for marijuana dispensaries and consumption bars in the village.

WELLSVILLE — The village of Wellsville is cutting it close as the board of trustees approved a resolution Tuesday night to hold a public hearing on whether to opt in or out on marijuana dispensaries and bars.

In March, the New York Legislature passed a law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. At that time the newly created Office of Cannabis Management notified municipalities across the state that, “Cities, towns and villages can opt-out of allowing adult use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licensees from locating within their jurisdictions however, municipalities cannot opt-out of adult use legalization.”

A deadline opting in or out of a local law was set for Dec. 31 and municipalities were advised that they can opt out now, and opt in at a later date if they wish.

For Wellsville’s mayor and trustees, to a man, they say they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision to opt in at this point because they are worried about the laws changing. If they opt in prior to Dec. 31, they can never op out, according to the state law, but they can opt in at anytime.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board unanimously passed a resolution to adopt a local law enabling it to opt out of the new law allowing for marijuana dispensaries and the issuance of onsite consumption licenses. They then quickly passed a second resolution establishing a public hearing on the matter to take place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 (the next scheduled meeting) at the David A. Howe Public Library.

The board can choose to pass the law at that meeting or wait until the last meeting in the month, Nov. 22. The new law must be submitted to the state by the Dec. 31 deadline, which could take five to six days, according to the village attorney.

Andrew Harris, a local blogger, businessman, farmer and ecologist, suggested that if the village doesn’t embrace the new legislation, it could be missing out on development that could take place on the Bolivar and Trapping Brook roads in the town. He said the town has shown an inclination to opt into the new law.

“I don’t want my kids walking by someplace on Main Street that is full of marijuana smoke on their way to get a milkshake at the Texas Hot,” Harris said, adding that he views Main Street as Norman Rockwellesque. “But there are other places in the village for those businesses.”

Village Attorney Richard M. Buck Jr. said, “Every municipality we represent is opting-out at this time.”

At a later point in the discussion he told the board, “It is not just about taxes and revenue. It is about what kind of communities we want to have. I see no harm in the village opting out and revisiting the matter in six months when we have had more information from the state.”

However, Harris said that the villages of Bolivar and Andover and the town of Wellsville are considering opting in and that after conducting a survey last summer the village of Alfred plans to opt out of having onsite consumption but will opt in to having dispensaries.

Voicing the opinion of his fellow trustees, Mike Roeske said, “I’d like to know what the voters think.”

Board members said they will continue to research the law and what it means to the village before the next board meeting.

Prior to the 40-minute discussion on the marijuana law, the board approved an event permit for the ambulance company to host an open house/Halloween celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. South Main Street from the bay to Bokman’s will be closed to traffic during that time.

The board also approved the establishment of a new business, Salon 406, to be located at 406 N. Main St. The business was allowed in the R-1 zoning district due to the existence of businesses already there. Taren Drake is the owner.

The board approved allowing the police department to sell its 2016 Ford Explorer patrol vehicle. Chief Tim O’Grady said the vehicle has some undiagnosed transmission problems.

“The buyer would know it the minute they drove out of the parking lot,” he said after revealing the problem and ending the meeting with a chuckle all around.

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