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Lindenhurst Village to hold public hearing on opting out of recreational marijuana sales

Lindenhurst Village will hold a hearing at 7:30

Lindenhurst Village will hold a hearing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on whether it should opt out of retail sales of recreational marijuana. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The Village of Lindenhurst will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed local law to prohibit recreational marijuana retail and consumption sites, but it plans to still poll residents on the matter next year.

Under state law, a municipality cannot prohibit residents 21 years and older from consuming or growing marijuana, but it can opt out of or regulate retail sales and consumption sites. If opting out, a municipality must pass a law by Dec. 31 stating its intention to do so. Opt-out laws can be overturned through a public referendum, and a municipality that opts out can opt in at a later date.

Mayor Mike Lavorata said he prefers banning the sites for now.

"If we would opt in and it becomes a headache for us, we can’t get out," he said.

There will be a 13% tax on an estimated $350 million in annual retail sales of recreational marijuana in the state, of which local municipalities get 3%. Lavorata said he estimates the village would get about $30,000, which he said is not worth the potential harm of having the sites, which he said could impact the quality of life of residents.

The other village boards in the town, Babylon and Amityville, have passed opt-out laws. However, Babylon Town will be opting in, leading to possible recreational marijuana sites located just outside all three villages' borders.

Even if Lindenhurst's opt-out law passes, Lavorata said he still wants to get a better understanding of how residents feel. In August, the village launched a 10-day online poll on the subject, receiving about 700 responses with an almost 50-50 split on whether to allow the sites.

But Lavorata said many senior citizens don’t have access to the internet. He said there are about 14,000 registered voters out of a total population of 27,000 in the village, and he would like to reach at least 33% of them.

"My concern is that it was very close and that was without senior citizens really having any say in it," he said.

In October, the village board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Advantage Inc. of Alexandria, Virginia, to "conduct a scientific, telephonic poll" of residents. But the board later decided the $20,000 cost was too much, said village administrator Doug Madlon. He said the village will instead issue a request for proposals next year to try to get a lower price.

The hearing will take place at 7:30 p.m. at village hall, 430 S. Wellwood Ave.

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