The Village of New Paltz Planning Board held a public hearing last week about a special-use permit for the opening of a marijuana dispensary at Zero Place, a zero-emissions, mixed-use building at 87 North Chestnut Street. The hearing drew support from residents of the village, including some who reside at Zero Place.
Rosalyn Cherry is one such resident, who when she first viewed an apartment at Zero Place, only knew that there was retail space on the first floor.
“I had no idea that those businesses would be in service to the community and the environment,” she said, noting that Zero Place already has Second Nature, a refillery for home products to cut down on disposable packaging; and a coffee shop that’s been working with Beyond Plastics, a project based out of Bennington College in Vermont that seeks to end single-use plastics.
“The third potential [Zero Place] business is a dispensary,” Cherry said. “While I have never been to one, my best friend, in her late 90’s, has in Massachusetts, where there are many dispensaries, and she has found relief from many of the conditions that come with aging.”
Cherry said she researched a dispensary’s product catalog to see the medical conditions which can benefit from cannabis use.
“As an example, a tincture that has natural anti-inflammatories and added digestion benefits,” she said. “Another example, to quote a large dispensary, states. ‘Our products are designed to assist adult consumers to regain, revitalize and improve their quality of life with a dispensary.’
Zero Place will be helping community members have relief from a myriad of medical conditions by products they will purchase here. For these reasons, I support a dispensary use at Zero Place and encourage the Planning Board to approve the use.”
Another resident of the building, Shaun Johnston, said there is a consensus of approval building among those living at Zero Place.
“I’ve talked to a number of people and we’ve all felt that this is quite a good match for the building,” Johnston said, adding that a dispensary has a better chance of success than other businesses in the age of eCommerce.
“This seems to be a nice stable business,” Johnston said. “It seems to be becoming a more important part of retail quite rapidly, so that’s kind of the reassuring to see that it could be quite profitable and stable. And there’s a string of other products that are coming online that I’ve heard about that add to stability.”
Johnston said the commitment to keeping the business appointment-only upon opening to get a sense of potential traffic issues is a good sign too.
“It seems a good match for the building,” he said. “From what I’ve seen, these businesses are something like a cross between a restaurant and a doctor’s office, so they’re kind of a nice upscale kind of look.”
Net-Zero Development, LLC is seeking approval for a retail use not currently listed in zoning for Zero Place for approximately 4,000 square-feet of retail space, plus an additional 800 square-feet of office and storage space. The property is listed in the Neighborhood Business Residential zone, and in addition to ground floor retail space, also has 25 two-bedroom and 21 one bedroom units across three stories.
At a Planning Board meeting held on Tuesday, July 16, David Shepler, a partner at Zero Place, but not one of the dispensary applicants, addressed a series of traffic and congestion questions previously asked in writing by the Planning Board.
To begin with, the appointment-only system would mean no walkup business, and Shepler said anyone coming to the dispensary without an appointment would be directed to visit the business’s website to make one.
At present, the name of the applicant has yet to be revealed, though Planning Board chairman John Litton last week said they would be as the proposal moves through the planning process, both with the village and also the state.
“From my understanding, there is currently no party that is specifically applying for the license,” Litton said. “What they are asking us to do is to approve the use and not the, the applicant…So that’s what we’re studying here. But I’m certain that as that becomes more well known, that individual will be named.”
Local resident Christina Johnson, who asked about the applicant, also wanted to know how many jobs would be created by the dispensary, as well as the details of their social responsibility plan, which is required under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), as well as how much tax revenue the business is projected to bring into the community.
Litton said the Village Planning Board would attempt to have answers to those questions the next time the project is on their agenda.