Riverhead extends hearing on loosening recreational cannabis zoning restrictions – Newsday

Riverhead wants more public input on a plan to ease its zoning restrictions for recreational pot dispensaries before voting on the measure.

The proposal would sharply increase the number of eligible sites from five to 144 by removing a 1,000 foot distance requirement from homes only along commercial corridors. Current zoning requires the shops to be 1,000 feet away from residences. Potential applicants said at a hearing Wednesday that it still leaves them with too few options.

Two town board members agreed, suggesting the town follow state zoning guidelines instead of stricter local ones established in 2022.

“When you put it to paper and try to make it work, it doesn’t,” supervisor Tim Hubbard said of the revision.

State guidelines say dispensaries cannot be on the same road and within 500 feet of school grounds.

It also recommends a 1,000 feet distance between dispensaries for towns like Riverhead that have more than 20,000 residents.

Nearly two dozen marijuana advocates cheered Hubbard, saying, “Let’s make it work” and “Let us open.”

Brian Stark of Merrick has a conditional state license but said finding a location remains a challenge. Some of the 144 sites are occupied or have landlords unwilling to lease to cannabis businesses.

“You’re not giving us anything to work with these maps,” Stark said.

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