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Author: Brian Walsh

Input on Marijuana Law Requested

Your input on the following is requested. Please read carefully and send your comments via email to

Town of Pine Plains Legalization of Marijuana

 For Dispensaries and Lounges in the Town of Pine Plains

 New York State, through the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) [Cannabis Law Article 4], has legalized the possession and use of cannabis.  However, the regulated retail sale of adult-use cannabis is not expected to begin until late 2022 or early 2023.

The State regulatory framework being created is analogous the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and the New York State Liquor Authority.  The framework is not complete, but several components are known.

  • There will be retail stores (sometimes called dispensaries – analogous to wine and liquor stores) and on-site consumption sites (sometimes called lounges – analogous to bars).
  • The State is prohibiting retail sale and/or on-site consumption within 500 feet of a school and 200 feet of a house of worship (analogous to alcohol sales laws).
  • All cannabis sales will be subject to a 4% local sales tax which will be distributed to the county where sales take place.  Counties are entitled to retain 25% of the local tax collected and must distribute the remaining 75% to the municipalities within the county in proportion to sales in each locale.  (Communities without sales will not receive revenue.)
  • If a retail dispensary is located in a village within a town that also permits cannabis retail sales, the county must distribute the monies attributable to such retail dispensary to the town and village as agreed upon by the governing bodies of those local governments.  In the absence of such an agreement, the county must evenly divide the monies between the town and village.  The moneys will be distributed on a quarterly basis.
  • Under State law, cannabis smoking and vaping is treated the same as smoking or vaping tobacco products and is prohibited in all the same places.
  • Towns and villages may pass local laws and land use regulations governing the time, place and manner of the operation of retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption sites, provided such laws or regulations do not make operations unreasonably impracticable.
  • Peace officers will be able to inspect all licensed or permitted premises and all records of licensed operators.

At the local level, State law for retail and on-site consumption will be deemed automatically opted-in; unless the municipality passes a local law (opt-out) subject to permissive referendum preventing cannabis sales prior to December 31, 2021.

If the municipality opts-in; retail and/or on-premises sales cannot be prohibited but can be subject to local zoning, which cannot place unreasonable restraints on the business.  Other aspects of marijuana production and distribution have been pre-empted by state law and cannot be prohibited.

If the Town opts-out, then it may opt-in later, but the Town cannot opt-out of either retail sales or lounges unless it passes a local law.

  • To effectuate the opt-out, such local governments must adopt a local law subject to a permissive referendum on or before December 31, 2021.
  • No city, village or town may opt-out after December 31, 2021.

Issues with Opting-in:

  • Our current Town Code does not specifically address cannabis sales or lounges or production of marijuana.
  • Would dispensaries be considered a retail use under current zoning code?
  • How are lounges, if permitted, to be regulated?
  • Is the cannabis – alcohol regulations analogy useful?





































Zoning Review Action Items Meeting 3.9.2021 7pm

Zoning Actions

  1. Review p. 89-91 of Implementations Section of Comp Plan Update and enact

Zoning Review Action Items: Some Specifics

  1. Increase size of Business/residential district to allow for living over a business. Evaluate zoning districts with the goal of increasing density to encourage affordable housing development in the hamlet and near the business district. Foster growth in hamlet and manage agricultural landscape in rural districts. Be proactive not reactive. Foster diversity in business district.


  1. Solar Law


  1. Review, update and add new definitions (e.g. short-term rentals, resort calculation for allowable size)


  1. Murphy/Chase Property 20 acres Lake Road/Mitchell Property/Catholic fields

Need to be brought into residential district acreage requirement in order to build cluster housing. Consider form-based codes for developments.

  1. 5-acre density zoning clarification and discussion.


  1. Zero-lot-line zoning in hamlet. Examine concept. Useful for affordable housing owned not rented Consider zoning overlay to allow for building in open lots around town. See Rural Build attachment.


  1. Setbacks, ingress and egress: Non-conforming properties set-backs issue: can we reconcile these with our set-back requirements, as they don’t conform to any zoning as is? Front and side lawns also bear looking at. Form-based codes apply? How? Liberta Property has been zoned out of existence, needs to be brought in somehow.


  1. Manufactured housing—site review required but the last TB changed the size of the house requirements to allow for single-wide trailers. Previous recommendations were for housing sizes to be in keeping with double-wides which look more like real homes. Why? Why not?


  1. Review ridgeline protections and amend as needed. Consider wind turbine threat.


  1. ADUs: Accessory dwellings: revise to allow for renting an accessory dwelling on one’s property to anyone, not just family. Examine setbacks.


  1. Merging properties.


  1. Permissive activities.


  1. NND—keep or discard?


  1. Signs