UPDATE: Penn Yan calls public hearing for 'opting out' Dec. 21

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

UPDATE: In anticipation of a large turnout, the location for Tuesday night’s public hearing on whether to allow retail marijuana sales within the village of Penn Yan, has been changed to the Penn Yan Academy Auditorium. It is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

PENN YAN -- The proposed local law to opt the Village of Penn Yan out of allowing cannabis dispensaries and on-site cannabis consumption establishments within the village is up for consideration again. The village is pursuing the local law under New York State Cannabis Law§ 131, which  authorizes villages and towns to opt-out on marijuana sales.

In October, Penn Yan's Village Hall was filled to capacity with residents wanting to hear and be heard on the issue of cannabis/marijuana sales and consumption within the village.

After failing to gain a second on a motion in October's Penn Yan Village Board meeting, the board approved a public hearing of the law to be held Dec. 21 at 6:10 p.m. in the village hall at the Penn Yan Academy Auditorium. At the last public hearing in October, spirited public comment was heard on both sides of the matter.

Proponents of the opt-out ranged from those who strongly disagree with the state's legalization on moral grounds, to those who only wish to wait long enough to see how the state intends to regulate it and for the village to establish the local codes for such establishments before opting back in.

Opponents of the opt out ranged from those who see medical, therapeutic, and recreational benefits to cannabis, to those who believe the revenue stream from cannabis sales taxes will greatly benefit the village. If the village opts out, they argue, the dispensaries and cafés will locate in other municipalities which will receive those monies, and Penn Yan will have missed its chance. 

The proposed local law states "The Village of Penn Yan, County of Yates, hereby opts-out of licensing and allowing establishments of cannabis retail dispensaries and cannabis on-site consumption establishments within its geographic boundaries... 

"This Local Law shall take effect immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State. Pursuant to Cannabis Law §131, this Local Law is subject to a permissive referendum and thus may not be filed with the Secretary of State until the applicable time period has elapsed to file a proper petition or a referendum has been conducted as a result of the filing of a proper petition or upon action by the Board of Trustees, approving this Local Law."

The local law opting out must be adopted by year’s end, but it is subject to permissive referendum as required under N.Y. State’s Municipal Home-Rule Law. The local law will take effect 45 days after its adoption, unless a valid petition for a permissive referendum is filed with the village clerk within that time. If at least 20% of village residents registered to vote sign the petition as qualified voters, then the issue will be put to a popular vote, either in the general election or in a special election.