New Paltz could soon have competing marijuana dispensaries if a pair of projects before the planning boards come to fruition.
Farmer’s Choice, LLC has proposed “The Barn” for 1 Old Route 299 in New Paltz, one of two dispensaries they have in the works, along with “The Stand” in Fishkill. During a meeting of the Town of New Paltz Planning Board on Monday, October 24, conditional site approval was unanimously given for the two-story new build, with the understanding that it’s for retail sales only; no on-site consumption will be allowed.
Under the most recent plans, Farmer’s Choice New Paltz location would include 3,000-square feet of first floor retail space and 2,000-square feet of first floor storage. Above the storage would be 2,000-square feet of office space. The plans also include a parking lot with 35 spaces, with at least two electric vehicle charging stations. A six-foot high wood fence is also planned for the rear of the property.
Traffic and parking, including their potential impact on nearby properties, were the subject of considerable discussion prior to the conditional approval being granted. Among the conditions of the approval are for the business to conduct a post-construction traffic monitoring study during the first year of operation; if the study reveals over 100 vehicle trips per hour during peak traffic hours, a second traffic study focusing on the impact to nearby intersections would also be required.
“I think the value to the Town and to the Planning Board is we have an opportunity to make somebody pay for a traffic study that will reassess the whole area at a future time,” said Lyle Nolan, the Planning Board’s deputy chair. “We’re not asking them to do something about it, but we’ll have a check in one year of the impact of all these projects on traffic.”
“I mean, who knows when people go buy their marijuana,” said board member Matthew DiDonna. “It could be at 11 o’clock in the morning, I don’t know.”
Board member Amanda Gotto said she favored the project save for the size of the parking lot, which she feared might be too large for no particular reason.
“What I don’t want to see is that a year from now when all the hoopla has died down and this becomes more like regular customers that you don’t have just a big paved thing that’s taking the trees down.”
Board Chair Adele Ruger said she believed that scenario was unlikely, and that the parking lot was appropriately sized.
“That’s why we’re not doing 50 (spots),” she said.
Another condition of the approval is obtaining a license from New York State to operate a marijuana dispensary prior to the issuance of a building permit. New York State, which legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2021, began taking applications for retail dispensaries two months ago.
The Village of New Paltz Planning Board is also reviewing a possible addition to the cannabis scene and considering a special use permit for the opening of a marijuana dispensary at Zero Place, a mixed-use building at 87 North Chestnut Street.
Net-Zero Development, LLC is seeking approval 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.
The concept of use as a marijuana dispensary was approved by the Village Planning Board at a meeting held on Tuesday, October 18, though the application, though it’s unclear who will actually operate the business. David Shepler, a partner at Zero Place, said the state’s Office of Cannabis Management could serve as an intermediary between the property and prospective businesses.
“They will bring to us actual applicants at some point in time and if we select (that option) and then we’ll go through the process of choosing them,” Shepler said, adding that any business will have to meet a Zero Place standard.
“We as the managers of this place, we’re very concerned about our mission,” Shepler said. “Our primary focus, honestly, is the residents who occupy Zero Place; we consider them first and foremost. The commercial tenants are important to us too, but by no means will we ever bring in a use that we feel will threaten that primary mission of satisfying the needs of our residents.”
The dispensary at Zero Place will at least temporarily operate exclusively by appointment only to allow for the study of traffic and demand. Shepler has pushed for a two-week monitoring period, but said he’d go with whatever the Planning Board required.
“What if the demand dies away within days and we’re held to the strict one month monitoring period?” he said during a Village Planning Board meeting in August. “We’re really tying the hands of the dispensary, and that’s not a good place to be.”
The New York State Cannabis Board has already begun considering a range of licenses for cultivators, processors and distributors of legal marijuana, and while cannabis use is now legal across New York State, local municipalities had until December 31, 2021 to determine whether they would allow retail and/or consumption businesses to operate within their boundaries. Disallowing them would also result in the potential loss of significant sales tax revenues.
According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, of the 24 municipalities in Ulster County, only five — the towns of Esopus, Plattekill, Saugerties, Shawangunk and Wawarsing — opted out of allowing dispensaries. All five also opted out of allowing cannabis consumption businesses to operate, along with the towns of Gardiner, Kingston and Ulster.