Prospective cannabis businesses seeking to open dispensaries on Long Island are running into several issues and roadblocks with the proposed or adopted zoning legislation restricting operators to mainly industrial areas.
As it stands, dispensaries can open only in Long Island towns that opted in for retail cannabis sales. To date, Babylon, Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton have opted-in to permit recreational cannabis sales. In three of the four opt-in areas, legislation has been adopted or proposed that would keep the dispensaries out of busy downtown areas, and stick them in commercial and out-of-the-way areas. The only municipality to vote on and approve of a zoning amendment has been Brookhaven.
To learn more about each municipality and where their regulations stand to date, see below.
Brookhaven Town officials approved a town zoning amendment that has banned cannabis sales within 500 feet of homes or 1,000 feet of schools, houses of worship, hospitals, libraries, parks, playgrounds, gyms, dance studios or at similar public or semi-public place of general congregation. Cannabis dispensaries must be at least 1 mile apart from each other. The zoning amendment bans cannabis smoking rooms and retail stores from downtown business districts.
In Babylon, according to Newsday, officials are expected to adopt similar regulations to Brookhaven. The legislation would allow 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 allowed within a 200-foot radius of religious properties or within a 500-foot radius of K-12 education facilities, libraries, parks, playgrounds, child-care centers, youth organizations, dance studios, batting cages, gymnasiums or other venues “where minors congregate.”
Cannabis businesses also could not operate within a 500-foot radius of another such business, whereas, in Brookhaven, said business need to be 1 mile apart.
Under Riverhead’s proposed regulations, retail and on-site consumption establishments would be permitted only in certain sections of town. Those districts include including Business Center, Shopping Center, Destination Retail Center, Rural Corridor, Downtown Center 1, 2 and 3, Hamlet Center, Village Center, Peconic River Community and Business F zoning use districts.
The code would require a minimum distance of 1,000 feet from schools, daycare facilities and libraries, as well as 500 feet from places of worship, beaches, parks, community centers and amusement businesses.
Cannabis businesses would also not be allowed within 1,000 feet of an existing residential use or a mixed-use development containing a residential use, or within 2,500 feet of another cannabis business. Lastly, the proposed code outlines security requirements, mandating the business to submit both a security plan and an odor management plan to the town.
Southampton is the only town that has not proposed zoning laws for retail cannabis. The Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman indicated that the town is waiting for further guidance from the state.
Mr. Schneiderman indicated at the minimum, they will propose laws keeping dispensaries away from places where children congregate, such as libraries and playgrounds, but will take into account concerns from the community, including traffic and safety.