During a virtual forum last week, residents had mixed opinions about the possible approval of retail cannabis sales in the Village of Great Neck Plaza. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
While a handful of Great Neck Plaza residents expressed their opposition to recreational cannabis at a public forum last week, some mentioned the impact of retailing the drug in the village in its business district.
More than 20 Plaza residents and those who live on the Great Neck Peninsula had the opportunity to share their views on whether the village should allow cannabis sales in the village during a virtual village event on Thursday.
Jean Celender, the village’s former mayor, said she served for eight years as a voting member on a subcommittee of the Nassau County Village Officials Association. Part of her involvement, she said, included filing a report to district manager Laura Curran in March 2019 advocating the district pulling out of the initiative.
“The state should not facilitate the availability and the ability to consume a product that has been shown to have negative effects on health and society,” Celender said. “Even if the district is silent on the subject of pharmacies and consumer issues, we should still unsubscribe.”
Under a new state law, cannabis use and smoking is legal throughout the state wherever tobacco smoking is legal, despite Nassau County legislation recently banned Smoking and vaporizing cannabis on all properties in the county.
Municipalities can opt out of retail cannabis sales until December 31, but will not receive any share of the local tax revenue generated.
Dennis Grossman, a member of the Village of Great Neck’s Board of Zoning Appeals, also shared his previous experience on a Nassau county marijuana task force, but acknowledged that the county and state moved into a different just a few years later Situation.
Marnie Ives, a longtime resident of the village and owner of Krön Chocolatier on Middle Neck Road, said she doesn’t allow marijuana in her home but, from a merchant’s point of view, appreciates a shop that can lure people with “money in” into the plaza business district Her bag.”
“When you have a category of business that can be strictly regulated like New York does with liquor stores … it’s not that every other business is going to be a pharmacy and people are smoking everywhere.”
Kate Goldberg, a resident of the village of Great Neck, along with Ives, pointed out some of the potential economic benefits a retail sale could bring to the village and peninsula business districts.
“I don’t think anyone is very happy that it’s coming here, but we understand the economic necessities,” Goldberg said. “Perhaps the village could limit the number of potential companies like this from the start. I think that would increase the acceptance for this idea. “
Grossman said based on his past experience and study of data, the amount of revenue the Plaza would receive would be negligible. He also said allowing retail sales to adversely affect nearby properties.
“Studying the board I was on didn’t show much revenue for anyone,” said Grossman. “I also think you will have difficulty renting the properties in the area.”
Great Neck resident and Blank Slate Media columnist Karen Rubin said if the village allowed cannabis sales, the number of stores would rapidly multiply. She also noticed the smell of someone smoking marijuana in areas across the peninsula and would only worsen if the village allowed retail.
“While I support the decriminalization of marijuana for medical purposes, I have never supported indefinite recreation,” said Rubin in the Zoom meeting chat room. “In large gatherings you get pushed away because the smell is so disgusting. The abuse is already palpable in NYC – you can’t walk down a street without the smell getting bad. “
The meeting was the first of two public forums planned by the plaza to gather public opinion before making a decision. The other meeting will take place on September 21st at 7pm