The town of Rotterdam will allow for marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption locations in town, despite residents’ comments to opt-out before the state’s Dec. 31 deadline.
The town held no public hearing on the matter, although many residents, and the school districts, commented on the subject at several of the last town board meetings. The topic was also never discussed as an agenda item by the board.
“The Town of Rotterdam has decided to allow cannabis dispensaries,” said board officials in a statement Thursday provided by the public relations firm the Martin Group. “We believe that dispensaries provide a valuable revenue stream that will directly benefit the wider community and fund necessary services. If prohibited, residents will simply turn to neighboring towns and take tax dollars out of Rotterdam. The updated Comprehensive Plan and town codes will address regulations as to where it can be used and sold.”
The last approved comprehensive plan was in 2001. The Comprehensive Plan Committee released a draft of the updated plan on Dec. 17. However, the public has yet to comment on it.
The plan only states that the town should “evaluate the appropriateness and land use impacts relating to cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption locations within the town.”
Supervisor-elect Mollie Collins said she will look to hold a public hearing to see what restrictions residents would like in place for the facilities, such as where the retail stores and on-site consumption locations should be located in town.
Both school districts in Rotterdam — Schalmont and Mohonasen — weighed in on the matter in early December.
In a letter to the board, Schalmont officials said they believed the board would make sound decisions related to the development of such facilities in town. Mohonasen officials asked the board to opt-out while the state still determines rules and regulations regarding the locations.
“It doesn’t seem like a prudent course of action; however, it is the elected officials’ decision on which way to go; we were advocates for a conservative approach, but evidently, we were not persuasive in this regard,” said Mohonasen Superintendent Shannon Shine Thursday.
Robert Godlewski, formerly a member of both the Town Board and the Mohonasen School Board, said it’s unfortunate the town is forgoing any decision on the subject. He said their inaction will be a problem for the school districts.
The Rotterdam resident said, when he was on the school board, there was a saying, ‘students can’t vote,’ so the understanding was that board members cast their votes with the students in mind. He continued saying that the Town Board should have taken the same approach in the current situation, but instead their inaction has let all students down.
Shine said in an email to The Daily Gazette on Dec. 10 that it has gotten harder to detect students using marijuana on school grounds because of the many forms it can come in now. There has been a rise in type, potency and variety of marijuana-infused products.
“For example, edibles are now on the scene, and so are highly concentrated ‘dabs,’” Shine said at the time. “Because of the advent of THC vape pens, it is also harder to detect marijuana use in schools since there is less of an odor, with the same being true for edibles, so it is speculative but probable that there has been a rise in school use.”
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