Lake Placid board opts out, shifts focus to zoning | News, Sports, Jobs

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees on Monday voted to opt out of allowing cannabis businesses in the village.

Recreational marijuana was legalized statewide in March, and the state gave local governments until Dec. 31 to pass local laws opting out of allowing dispensaries and/or on-site consumption licensing within their boundaries. If local governments don’t opt out by Dec. 31, their municipality will automatically be opted in.

The village board unanimously voted to opt out with the intention of placing its cannabis laws on a ballot next March.

Village governments, unlike town governments, have the ability to opt out and then pass a resolution to place their cannabis laws on a ballot, which is the process the village board decided to begin last month. Mayor Art Devlin has repeatedly said that the village board wants to leave the final decision on cannabis with Lake Placid voters.

The board has 30 days from its vote to adopt a resolution putting the laws on the ballot, according to municipal law. The last day possible to adopt the resolution would be Jan. 19, 2022, two days after the board’s second meeting in January.

Devlin is currently scheduled to travel to Torino, Italy from Jan. 14-18 to receive the Olympic flag in a pared-down closing ceremony for the 2021 FISU World University Winter Games, which were canceled due to pandemic-related concerns.

Once the resolution is approved, the measure must appear on the ballot within 60 days — by March 18, 2022 if the board passes a resolution at its Jan. 17 meeting. The next village election is on March 15, 2022. Devlin said Monday that the board intends to wait the 30-day period before passing a resolution in order to get the timing right for the cannabis laws to appear on the ballot during the village election.

The ballot was originally expected to include one seat on the board of trustees, since trustee Jason Leon was elected to the North Elba Town Council in November. Now, Leon plans to join the North Elba council while remaining on the village board to finish his term next year, so his seat won’t be on the ballot. He said that to avoid conflicts of interest, he’ll bow out from the village board when it begins budget discussions next fall. The village board plans to hold a special election to replace Leon after his term ends.

Zoning

Leon asked the board if it had considered zoning related to cannabis businesses in the event that the March election overturns the cannabis laws. Devlin said that North Elba Town Councilor Emily Kilburn Politi had reached out to him about forming a town-village committee related to zoning, and Devlin recommended Trustee Jackie Kelly to represent the village on the committee.

The North Elba Town Council unanimously voted to opt out at a special board meeting last Friday. Kilburn Politi said at the council’s regular meeting on Dec. 14 that she might consider opting out to get a few more months to consider zoning issues. She was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Devlin said Tuesday that he thinks Leon “jumped the gun” on discussing zoning related to cannabis businesses. Devlin said he’s heard that cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption businesses won’t start rolling out for another year or so. The actual sale of adult-use cannabis isn’t expected to start until the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023, according to the New York Conference of Mayors.

Devlin said one of the important factors in zoning related to cannabis will be to make sure that cannabis businesses could only operate in commercial zones. For now, Devlin said, he’s going to wait for the March election results.

“Who knows which way the village is going to vote,” he said.

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