SYLVAN BEACH — Members of the Sylvan Beach Board of Trustees say they won’t be rushed into making a decision about whether to allow cannabis dispensaries to do business in the village. The board met on Monday, with around a half-dozen residents attending to speak their minds and hear what board members think about opting in, or out, of marijuana sales.
Trustee Mark Daily said that state legislation approved earlier this year gives the village board until the end of the year to permit or prohibit the sale of retail marijuana in the village. “We need to reply by Dec. 31 of this year to New York state,” Daily said. “I felt we really needed to go on a fact-finding mission and get the pulse of the village. This is not a decision-making [meeting], this is listening to the concerns and whether residents are for or against it.”
Even after the meeting, Daily said the board would do more research and seek to learn from other municipalities as well as to hear more from village residents.
John Chanatry, resident and a member of the Sylvan Beach Community Action Coalition, shared a poll from members of the coalition. “Without any detailed knowledge of the law or any awareness of any potential financial benefits the village might recoup, we asked the coalition, ‘Do you oppose marijuana dispensaries in Sylvan Beach,” Chanatry said. Of its 93 members, Chanatry said 47 responded with 33 opposed, 11 favored, and three undecideds.
“This question was asked without any knowledge of financial benefit,” Chanatry said. “Speaking myself, I think it’s important residents understand the village is on a very limited budget, and any infusion of income can only benefit the income.”
Chanatry said he’d like to re-poll CAC members with this point taken into consideration.
Another resident in attendance agreed with Chanatry’s point, saying if it benefits the village, he’d be for the presence of dispensaries.
Village Mayor Richard Sullivan asked just how much of the sales tax from a dispensary would go to the village. Daily said the overall tax would be 13%, and out of that, Oneida County would receive 4%. “Municipalities would receive 75% [of that 4%], so our max would be 3%, and the county would receive that 25%,” Daily explained, adding that the board needed more research into how this tax money would be handled and distributed.
One resident asked if the board could opt back out, should it look like the dispensaries are not beneficial for the village.
According to the legislation on the New York State website, “If a municipality does not opt-out by December 31, 2021, the municipality will be unable to opt-out at a future date.”
Overall, members of the board were receptive to the idea of allowing dispensaries in the village if they directly benefited the village through additional income. Sullivan said that if the village did opt out, there wouldn’t be anything stopping anyone from building a dispensary “…right across the bridge.”
And one resident asked if the Oneida Indian Nation would be selling at their own dispensaries.
In May, Oneida Indian Nation officials told the Daily Sentinel that the nation had made no decision but was studying potential entry into the sale and or growth of recreational marijuana.
The board agreed this was another factor they would have to consider before making a decision. The next Sylvan Beach Village Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. For more information about Sylvan Beach, visit https://www.villageofsylvanbeach.org or https://www.facebook.com/villageofsylvanbeachnygov/.