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Marijuana dispensaries would be restricted in Hempstead Village

Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall Sr.

Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. is seen in his office Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. The village has acted to regulate marijuana dispensaries. Credit: Chuck Fadely

The Hempstead Village Board is planning to impose new restrictions and regulations for where medical marijuana dispensaries could be established away from homes and schools.

Board members will schedule a hearing next week for new village codes to be set during a January public hearing. The village has no current applications for a medical marijuana dispensary to open in Hempstead, but Village Attorney Debra Urbano-Salvo and Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. said the regulations are a proactive measure to let businesses and residents know what restrictions are in place.

“There’s no clinic coming into the village. We’re just trying to make sure we put it in a spot that’s not desirable and control where we put it,” Hall said.

In July, the state legislature approved two dispensaries to open on Long Island. One dispensary planned in Lake Success and a second in Riverhead are among 20 dispensaries statewide that were approved by the legislature. The state approved liquid vapor or capsules of the drug but has not approved smoking marijuana or edibles of the drug.

Hempstead Village officials said they cannot outright ban dispensaries since they are recognized by the state, so instead they are changing zoning codes of where they could exist.

Other Long Island communities, including Islandia and North Hempstead, have passed zoning changes or challenged zoning laws to restrict dispensaries from opening. North Hempstead Town officials recently said that the site planned in Lake Success is not zoned for medical marijuana use.

Hempstead Village’s proposed zoning code would restrict any dispensary from being established within 300 feet of individual homes or residential areas and no dispensary would be able to operate within a 500-foot radius of schools, parks, playgrounds, community centers or near historic landmarks. They would not be permitted within 300 feet of any place of worship.

The proposed zoning code would also limit dispensaries from operating with 1,000 feet from each other and the village would not permit more than one facility in the same building or property.

“We’re looking to change the zoning code for placement in areas that would not create a disruption in residential areas or for traffic,” Urbano-Salvo said. “All this is simply a designation of where they can be placed.”

Village officials see the proposed laws as a deterrent for applicants to open in more populated areas or on Hempstead’s main downtown streets. The code would restrict dispensaries to primarily industrial areas.

The village has prohibited some businesses under its adult use code. Currently, the town has one adult business operating under that code on Main Street. Village officials have fought other applicants, including a methadone clinic, from opening in the village.

Trustees are changing the village’s zoning code after residents mounted a fight last month to stop a waste transfer station from opening in an industrial zoned area that was within 1,000 feet of homes.

Referring to medical marijuana dispensaries, Hall said, “The village is opposed to this and we have enough things in the village. I think the residents have made it clear that we don’t want people dumping things here and we don’t want this in the village.”

Hempstead proposed medical marijuana zoning code:

Dispensaries cannot be located within 300 feet of homes or places of worship.

Dispensaries cannot open within 500 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, playing fields or community centers.

Dispensaries cannot open within 1,000 feet of another dispensary or on the same property.

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