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December 13, 2021 - 9:43pm

Council makes no formal statement as it decides to 'opt in' to retail dispensaries, on site consumption of cannabis

weed.jpgIt looks as though, by default, the City of Batavia is welcoming the opportunity to host retail dispensaries and on-site consumption places as permitted by the New York Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., speaking at tonight’s Conference Meeting at City Hall Council Board Room, said that since the municipality “has no control over it,” then it would be prudent to opt in and “get the money (that cannabis sales would produce).”

The topic was brought up by city resident John Roach, who correctly noted that if a community doesn’t do anything (as far as a formal resolution), “you’re automatically in.”

State officials are requiring municipalities to state their intentions by Dec. 31. Towns, cities and villages that opt out are able to opt in at a later date, but those that opt in, can never opt out.

Jankowski and Council member Robert Bialkowski both said they have received “positive comments” about opting in. The former said that “people are advising me to get the tax money” and the latter stated that some people -- including adults -- enjoy using marijuana.

Questioned further following the meeting, Jankowski said his understanding was that there were two choices: “Do nothing and automatically opt in after December 31st or do the resolution and opt out, and then I think there was recourse for the public to opt back in …”

The MRTA does stipulate that if a community opts out, residents could call for a public referendum to reverse that decision.

While many legislative bodies in cities, towns and villages across the state have discussed the matter in an open forum and drafted resolutions – or are in the process of doing so, City Council wasn’t one of them. Jankowski said none of his colleagues indicated a desire to bring the subject to a vote.

“Any council member could have easily brought it up and put it on the agenda but it just never came to the front because of a complaint by a citizen that adamant about wanting Council to do something about it,” he said. “The bottom line is I usually put my personal opinion to the side and I listen to the people I represent. And nobody from the city contacted me and was really passionate about it or concerned about opting out.”

Jankowski said he talked to many people over the past several months "and they basically told me they weren’t really happy about the way the state did it, but they understand the wisdom of getting any money from taxes."

"But we’re not even sure if anybody’s going to even open a business in the city," he added.

What's Up with the WWTP?

Roach also asked about the status of the City Waste Water Treatment Plant and the dispute with O-At-Ka Milk Products over the milk processing plant’s discharge into the ponds that exceeded legal limits.

City Attorney George Van Nest, offering no specifics, said engineers working with the city and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials are monitoring the recovery of the ponds with the goal of obtaining maximum efficiency.

In other developments, City Manager Rachael Tabelski reported:

  • The city will recognize Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate “instead of checking vaccination status at the door.” The mandate runs through Jan. 15, 2022. “We’re awaiting the executive order to make it official,” she said.
  • That 90 percent of the city’s National Grid customers now have power following Saturday’s major wind storm. She said that residents may place downed tree limbs next to the curb for pickup by Department of Public Works crews this week.
  • The possibility of planting trees to replace those that have come down due to storms and other reasons. Jankowski noted that the city hasn’t planted trees in a long time and suggested planting some each year over a five-year period. Tabelski said that wouldn’t be possible with money from the general fund without raising property taxes. She did say that donations from businesses or residents are welcome.
  • Two bids from contractors seeking to handle the Jackson Square renovation – one of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects – came in “double the price that was anticipated.” Tabelski said she was hoping for a cost of around $650,000, but the submitted bids were for more than $1 million. She said the project will be re-bid and, as a result, the start of construction will be pushed back until August 2022.
  • The city has hired Angie Dickson, a Corfu resident, as confidential secretary. The position had been vacant for several weeks after Lisa Casey left to become clerk of the Genesee County Legislature. Two DPW jobs are open – heavy equipment operator and laborer.
David Reilly
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My dad always used to say Batavia’s going to pot. Finally he’s right.

Dave Olsen
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Joined: Oct 12 2008 - 11:48am

It was a joint decision

Frank Bartholomew
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To put it bluntly, no one cares.

Dave Olsen
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Joined: Oct 12 2008 - 11:48am

All the fast food restaurants want one next door.

Howard B. Owens
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Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

Good opportunity to open a Dorritos shop.

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