Flower Hill makes dates for hearings on marijuana opt-out

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Flower Hill Deputy Mayor Randall Rosenbaum speaks at the village's most recent Board of Trustees meeting. (Screencap via YouTube)

The Board of Trustees of the Village of Flower Hill will hold hearings in June, July and August  about opting out of recreational marijuana dispensaries.

The trustees resolved to hold the hearings at their meeting on Monday night, which was held in person at Village Hall for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began and livestreamed on YouTube.

Deputy Mayor Randall Rosenbaum said at the meeting that under recently passed legislation legalizing recreational marijuana in the state, towns and villages have the opportunity to opt out of the sale of marijuana by Dec. 31, but if the municipality chooses not to opt out, the decision would be permanent.

“If a village, town, or municipality does not opt out of the sale by Dec. 31 of this year, then, the municipality can never opt out ever again,” Rosenbaum said. “You’re officially in,  and you can never stop it. By opting out before Dec. 31, that gives the village an opportunity for whatever reason, [to opt into the sale] in the future, if we want to talk and if that was the will of the people. But by not taking an action, you can never make an action after that. In essence, once you’re in you’re in.”

He added that should the board opt out of the sale of recreational marijuana, a petition with enough signatures from residents could create a permissive referendum and special election for the village to vote on.

“They can then do a referendum, so in essence overruling what the board does, which is pretty rare when it comes to municipalities and passing local rules,” Rosenbaum said.

He also noted that the Town of North Hempstead has not opted out of recreational marijuana sales yet, which would affect the possible income the village could see as a result of taxes on the product.

“If we did not opt out, we would get 3 percent of gross revenue right off the top, which is pretty significant business,” Rosenbaum said. “However, if North Hempstead didn’t opt out, if they allowed the sales in the town, we have to split the tax with them. So any windfall we thought we would get by allowing sales, we only get half, so then it’s not a windfall anymore.”

The deputy mayor also said that while the village could not ban public consumption outright, it could ban consumption on village-owned properties like its parks.

The board then unanimously resolved to hold the hearings.

In Flower Hill, for any proposed bill not of an emergency nature, three hearings must be conducted before taking a vote under village law, according to village Administrator Ronnie Shatzkamer. Hearings on the opt-out will take place at the Monday, June 7, Monday, July 12, and Monday, Aug. 2, meetings of the village board, with the trustees having the earliest opportunity to vote following the August meeting.

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