By Karen Carr Keefe
Senior Contributing Writer
Wheatfield is one step further in the process to allow retail and on-site consumption businesses to sell marijuana to adults in properly zoned areas of town.
The Town Board on Monday adopted a local law that adds “adult-use cannabis” to the town’s zoning code.
The board determined through the SEQR process that the proposed adult-use cannabis law would not adversely affect the environment or the safety and welfare of the public.
Once New York legalized marijuana, municipalities across the state could adopt a local law to opt out of retail sales and on-site distribution if they voted to do so before Dec. 31, 2022. Wheatfield did not vote to opt out.
No adverse comments were received at a public hearing last month about potential marijuana-related businesses operating within the town. The board had previously referred the matter to the Planning Board in accordance with General Municipal Law.
Supervisor Don MacSwan said that, at the previous public hearing, “We had the law available for people to review and we had very few comments at all.”
He said people just asked a couple of minor questions: “I think people have accepted the fact that it’s legal in New York state. People have to go through a lot of hoops just to go through New York state before they can even get a permit, and then they have to abide by our law, of course.”
“This has been ongoing for quite some time. We made some minor modifications of the law,” he said. “We adopted it.”
MacSwan said he is sure there will be those interested in operating marijuana-related businesses within Wheatfield’s approved commercial areas, but such applications would be handled through the state.
“Once they get their permits from New York state, they still have to abide by our town law,” he said. “But we have to be very careful. We can’t make it more stringent than what the state requirements are.
“There’s many stipulations in the law but, basically, we allow it in a commercial zone, only, and then they still have to abide by distance from schools, distance from playgrounds – things like that, which all are regulated through New York state and the Town of Wheatfield.”
Towns that allow the business to operate, according to state and local law, get the benefit of a share of tax revenue generated by those businesses.
In other business, MacSwan said there currently is a shortage of water meters in the town.
“We have a lot of new homes going up – we’re hoping that we get them soon, because we may not have the adequate water meters for the new homes going in,” he said. “We ordered them last year, and we haven’t received them yet.”
He said the town decided that, if they don’t have the meters in time, they will put in what’s called “a jumper” without a meter, and homeowners would pay the minimum fee until meters are available. A jumper is a basically a piece of pipe between the town line and the new house line.
MacSwan said he talked to town’s water superintendent, who is trying to find some alternative meters that would work in the town’s system. He said Wheatfield has gone through “a really huge growth period” in previous years. “And now, with sewers available in most of the town – at least 95% – of course it’s growing. And I would say right now we’re probably one of the fastest or largest-growing communities in Niagara County, for sure.”