Babylon officials have joined other towns that opted in to recreational marijuana sales by creating dispensary regulations that dictate where the businesses can be located within the town.
A public hearing on the proposed law for recreational marijuana microbusiness, consumption sites and dispensaries will be held Sept. 21.
“We’ve been trying to figure out what works best for the community,” said Matt McDonough, an attorney for the town, adding that the proposed law includes state recommendations.
The legislation would allow recreational marijuana dispensaries, consumption sites and microbusinesses only in areas zoned industrial and would prohibit them from operating within a 1,000-foot radius of a residential area. The businesses also would not be permitted within a 200-foot radius of religious properties or within a 500-foot radius of K-12 education facilities, libraries, parks, playgrounds, childcare centers, youth organizations, dance studios, batting cages, gymnasiums or other venues “where minors congregate.”
In addition, marijuana businesses could not operate within a 500-foot radius of the lot line of another such business.
The Botanist, a medical marijuana facility in a business zone in East Farmingdale that will also have recreational sales, will be grandfathered in under the new law, McDonough said.
“We’re sort of a laboratory for [regulations],” McDonough said. “If things are working, we would be open to expanding it, but if things are going in the opposite direction, we would also look to limit it.”
Besides Babylon, only three other towns on Long Island have opted into allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries: Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton. Seven villages in Suffolk and five villages in Nassau have also opted in, according to data from the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public policy think tank based in Albany. Municipalities will collect a portion of the revenue from all sales.
The state is still administering dispensary licenses, of which 20 are expected to go to Long Island.
McDonough said that, as with other states that legalized recreational marijuana, when dispensaries first open he expects to see long lines but then “eventually it’s going to be as commonplace as liquor stores.”
Carmine Fiore, 37, of Levittown, said marijuana businesses should be treated like liquor stores.
“Liquor stores are able to be in a shopping center, there’s no amount of feet that a store can’t be from another liquor store or from a residence,” he said.
Fiore, an Army veteran who is an EMT with the FDNY, wants to open a dispensary in Babylon but said the zoning regulations are too restrictive and as a result there are limited properties available. He said most of the properties are large, requiring the sites to be split and sublet, which becomes costly. Some landlords, after hearing mention of marijuana, declined to discuss any business dealings further, he said.
McDonough said some property owners with federally-backed loans might be limited since marijuana sales are illegal under federal law. He said Babylon has had “very positive conversations” with prospective dispensary owners and is working with Fiore to find a location.
The hearing is at 7 p.m. at Babylon Town Hall in Lindenhurst.