One large topic of the evening at the Aug. 30 meeting of the Spencer Village Board of Trustees was a presentation by Elaine Jardine, Tioga County Planning Director. She shared information with the board on the new New York State marijuana law, including the fact that—whichever option the board choses—village residents can petition to have the decision reversed.
Like all municipalities, the village must decide by Dec. 31 whether it will opt in or out on allowing retail sales, on-site use, or some combination of the two. Some of the key points that Jardine made include the rights of the public to request a permissive referendum, regardless of what the board decides.
If the board decides to opt out, then the public can carry a petition to have the public vote on having the board opt in, to enable the public to purchase marijuana locally. Conversely, the public can ask via petition, if the board does opt in, for the board to opt out if it does not want a retail establishment or on-site-use business in the village.
Petitions must be turned in within 30 days of any board vote and signed by 20 percent of the qualified voters. In addition, the board itself can ask for a permissive referendum. Irene Graven, Village Attorney, told the board that if the board calls for a permissive referendum, that is the easiest way to do it.
Jardine explained that the procedure for the village and the town is different, so it gets confusing. She also noted that the board should not expect much tax revenue for the village, since Spencer is so close to the Pennsylvania border.
Another point is that if the town opts out but the village opts in, the town will get a percentage of whatever tax revenue does come to the village. As for a cannabis-consumption “lounge,” Jardine said that there is little data or experience with this kind of business.
Spencer Village Police Chief Michael Monteiro asked if a lounge proprietor would be held legally liable, as a bar owner is, if someone consumes cannabis on their property, drives away impaired, and then hits or kills someone. Jardine said she did not know.
After listening to Jardine’s presentation, the board agreed to take a vote in October so there would be adequate time for citizens to carry a petition within the 30 days allowed, if it wants to.
Several trustees at the Spencer Village Board meeting on Aug. 30 reversed their positions on the marijuana law from the previous month, including the mayor. Previously, with the exception of Trustee Tim Goodrich, most of them had been opposed to opting in to the municipal marijuana law.
Following the cannabis law discussion at the meeting, the board agreed to vote on a cannabis resolution at the October meeting.