GREAT VALLEY — The Great Valley town board members approved allowing marijuana sales in the town by a 3-1 margin Monday after further discussions among themselves and with more input from local residents.
Board members Lori Finch, Sandy Goode and Becky Kruszynski voted in favor of allowing sales while Supervisor Dan Brown voted against it. Board member Jerry Musall was not present.
After not closing the public hearing from the September meeting, the town again allowed residents to voice their opinions on permitting regulated marijuana sales. Brown said several residents had contacted him in the four weeks between meetings and more said they did not want sales.
Since recreational marijuana use was approved earlier this year in New York state, municipalities have until Dec. 31 to decide whether to opt in or out on allowing sales.
Goode said she noticed there is a dispensary in Kill Buck on Route 417, so sales are in the town even if they are technically only on Seneca Nation territory.
“I think the problem with it, even though we have zoning, is we don’t really have the store front-type area except for down there on 417, and of course that’s on the Nation,” Brown said. “But up through here, we don’t, so where would it really be?”
Zoning board member Chris Schena said, as with cigarette sales, the town wouldn’t be able to compete with the prices on Seneca territory.
Kruszynski said if the town allows sales, then they would be regulated by the state and likely safer, which some people may prefer.
“It’s going to be more expensive compared to the Nation, but it’s going to be safe,” she added.
Some town residents in attendance said the town should opt in and make money from the sales tax if they can. They also said with Ellicottville and the Seneca Nation nearby, chances of someone opening a shop in the town are small anyway.
The 13% tax on legal marijuana sales includes 9% going to the state and a 4% local excise tax that will be distributed to local governments. One percent goes to the county and 3% goes to the cities, town or villages within the county.
In addition to opting in for the sale of marijuana, the board also voted 4-0 to not allow on-site consumption sites.
In the neighboring town of Humphrey, the town board also voted to allow retail dispensaries but will not allow on-site consumption sites.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the town board unanimously approved new zoning for certain types of events centers in the town after a public hearing. The idea for the zoning law change came to the board after a couple of residents approached the town about holding barn weddings.
“We determined that we think it’s a good idea and should be allowed, but not everywhere,” said Schena. “We’re going to allow it agricultural-residential, commercial and the HRZ zones only with a special use permit that will have to be filed by the entities that want it.”
The law would permit two events per weekend as defined as Friday at midnight until noon on Sunday as well as one weekday event from May 15 to Nov. 1 such as a family reunion.
Goode asked why limit how often a center could have events. Schena said it’s to give the neighbors a break from the noise and traffic.
A maximum of 300 people would be allowed at one time, Schena said, which would allow for two simultaneous events if they have less than 150 people each. All parking must be contained on the property with no parking in the street or across the street, he said.
“We also determined we didn’t want to have any single-standing port-o-potties,” he said. “They have to have on-site sanitation.”
No food prep would be permitted on site, Schena said. All food must be made off-site and brought to the property fully cooked.
Concerning the noise concern, Schena said the town already has a noise ordinance law that would be enforced.
“Cattaraugus County Planning Board has approved it with one condition that there was some wording in this proposal that needed to be changed,” he said.
Schena said the county also suggested the special use permit go to the individual and not the property so if the property is sold the new owner would have to reapply. Brown agreed with that idea, saying it gives the town a chance to regulate it if the center was being run poorly.
“I don’t think the next owner would be denied, they just may have other ideas for it,” Schena added.