Wellsville opts out on marijuana; petitions for referendum underway | News

WELLSVILLE — A new village emblem will be at the top of the village’s new law opting out of licensing marijuana dispensaries and consumption establishments.

Earlier this year, after legalizing adult use of marijuana, New York state gave municipalities until Dec. 31 to pass a local law to opt out or be automatically opted in for permitted marijuana-related establishments. Municipalities may choose to opt in at a later date, but they were given only to Dec. 31 to opt out.

The Wellsville Village Board has been in conversation with those seeing the new marijuana guidelines as a potential economic boon for the village. A public hearing was held earlier this month to hear the pros and cons of the matter.

Opening the board’s Monday night meeting, Wellsville Mayor Randy Shayler said in a statement, “A crucial fact in this decision is that an opt-out position can be reversed, but an opt-in decision is permanent. To force the village to make a permanent decision within nine months, on an issue which has been a multi-year discussion at the state level, is unreasonable.”

He continued, “There is recourse for those who oppose this board’s opt-out decision. All local laws passed by municipalities opting out of allowing adult-use retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses are subject to a permissive referendum as outlined in Section 21 of the Municipal Home Rule Law.”

Only three visitors were in the board room Monday night when the board adopted Local Law #2 of 2021 opting out.

The new law was unanimously passed by the board with Deputy Mayor Jeff Monroe, Trustee Michael Roeske, Trustee Ed Fahs, Trustee Gary Pearson and Mayor Randy Shayler all voting yes.

The mayor said the board will establish a local cannabis panel to make recommendations on how to proceed. The panel will be headed by Monroe.

Those opposing the opt out are planning to circulate a petition asking for a public referendum, with Roeske saying he will also pass a petition for a referendum.

“I think the people should decide,” he said noting that such a decision will impact the village for decades to come.

After several minutes of discussion it was determined that 535 registered village voters must sign the referendum petition in order for the referendem to take place.

Andrew Harris, founder of the Highland Cannabis Cooperative, said his supporters for opting in on marijuana sales would begin passing petitions Tuesday.

He said they have been looking at several ways to collect signatures including a possible drive-through to allow for people to socially distance per COVID-19 precautions.

Official petitions are available from the village clerk and require the date, name and address of the signer. Signatures must be witnessed to be valid.

As the meeting continued, Melody Kellogg of the Wellsville Development Board passed around a print of the newly proposed emblem for the village. She said the old seal, used on documents and village vehicles, is outdated and doesn’t truly represent Wellsville, and that the new emblem is approved by the WDB as a better representation of Wellsville today.

The old seal shows an oil well and machinery manufactured by Dresser-Rand and Air PreHeater, along with the school motto all in separate sections. The circle I divided by a Y formed by Dyke’s Creek and the Genesee River at the tip of Island Park.

Shayler commented that the old seal looks like “some kind of peace sign.”

The new seal is in keeping with the county’s Allegany Wilds program and motif according to Kellogg. It was designed pro bono by graphic artist Lauren Gurbacki a “daughter of Wellsville.”

The board accepted the new design without further comment. The Mayor directed that it be incorporated on future documents and that the old seal be fazed out.

The board also approved a request from Stephen Caton, director of the Wellsville Village Market to host a Christmas Market on Dec. 4, 11 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market will take place in the Exhibition Room at the library.

As was discussed at the last meeting, during the holiday season shoppers are given a break from having to feed the parking meters, courtesy from the village. But it is suggested that visitors put change in the parking meters to help support a local charity.

At the last meeting two organizations were suggested to be the recipient of this year’s parking meter donations. The board decided to give the 2021 funds to ACCORD Action Angels. In fairness to the other organization that was suggested, the mayor announced that Allegany County Cancer Services will receive funds from the 2022 collection.

The parking hiatus runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

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