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My Last Try Bedford Friends!

*Originally sent out as an email


Hello again friends,


I promise that this will be my final email to you on the matter because the reality is, if the Town Board votes to opt-in to allowing the retail sale of marijuana here in Bedford this coming Tuesday as anticipated, there's nothing left for us to do. Contrary to what Supervisor Calves has been telling us for weeks, there has been no confirmation from the Office of Cannabis Management that this issue can be brought to a ballot referendum where the public could vote. So this hugely impactful, controversial, divisive and irreversible decision will be decided upon by just five individuals (who coincidentally have a combined total of just five years of public service experience).


I've provided additional information below that I think is worth a read (and should make your blood boil), but I'll be practical and use this valuable top-of-page real estate to make my plea to you:

  1. Send an email to the Town Board simply stating that the town shouldn't vote to allow retail stores on June 21st - and if it's helpful, here's an email template that you can use for doing so.

  2. Plan to attend the June 7th Town Board meeting (in-person at the Bedford Courtroom or virtually via Zoom) beginning at 5:15pm. Even if you choose not to speak during public comment, attendance helps demonstrate the level of constituent interest to the Town Board in this issue.

  3. Share this email with friends and neighbors to make them aware - even those who may be supportive of the legalization of marijuana might not want the stores in our town without any special, Bedford-specific zoning rules.

I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions and hope to see (and feel) your presence during Tuesday's Town Board meeting.


ADDITIONAL CONTEXT

 
  • The Town of Bedford - after hearing public comment late last year - voted to opt-out of allowing the retail of sale of marijuana in December 2021. And here we are, not even a full six months removed from that decision, now rushing to opt back in even though literally nothing has changed since. I find the speed at which they are moving to adopt something as impactful as this - without any substantive deliberation or rule-setting - highly concerning. I will steal a quote from someone who recently emailed me, "there has been more in-depth discussion about goats in this town than marijuana opt-in).

  • I dialed-in to their working session on May 3rd expecting to hear what I thought would be a thought-provoking, back-and-forth discussion from people on both sides of the issue. That was not the case. They arranged for one nay-sayer - a drug abuse prevention counselor - followed by a litany of proponents, and a slideshow that walked us through the racist history of Cannabis dating back to the 1500's. Their 'sales pitch' concluded with a few minutes from the Towns' Zoning Board who cited no concerns about traffic/parking impacts and made no recommendations of special zoning rules other than minimum standards set by the State - which means these stores could sit in any retail area in the Town of Bedford as long as it's not within 200' of a church or 500' of a school (that means that 95% of all commercial properties in the Town could be the site for a marijuana retail establishment). Note: public comment was not permitted in this session.

  • When questioned on Bedford-specific zoning rules, Supervisor Calves had the audacity to suggest that they would be added AFTER opt-in - in what world does that make sense? And what incentive would there be amongst proponents of said stores once the Town has voted to allow them since we can never vote to un-allow the stores? Note: look no further than their spineless settlement with Verizon Wireless most recently to see how much fight our elected leaders have in them.

  • For my neighbors in Bedford Hills - I know that if I was a proprietor, I would fight like hell to set up shop right in our currently barren downtown- next to a bus stop and across the street from the train station and police department. I can only imagine what that means for us as it relates to traffic, noise, crime and future business development...

  • Regarding traffic, the Towns' Comptroller estimated tax benefits to be in the range of $255,000 annually at the low-end. What they failed to mention however - whether it was due to a lack of research or strategically omitted - was that in order to do so, we would need to generate $8,500,000 in annual sales which would require 110,000 customers (assuming Average Order Value of $75), and between 350-600 visits daily (again, this was based on the $255K forecast, which was stated as 'on the low-end'). Either they are severely underestimating the traffic and parking impact or we are grossly overestimating how much tax revenue this will bring us. Note: there has been no discussion of how much additional money will be required to increase police presence (for both the establishment and the increased traffic) ; Chief Melvin Padilla has publicly stated that public safety and social services will indeed become more strained with an opt-in.

  • Social equity is the other motivation - with Supervisor Calves citing that marijuana dispensaries should be allowed within the confines of Bedford "to address the disproportionate impact on communities of color due to decades of racially-motivated criminalization and stigma associated with this substance". And there is no question that there are rules in place at the NYS level to ensure just that - including one that reserves the first 100 or more retail licenses for individuals who have either been convicted of a marijuana-related offense themselves, or had a family member convicted of one. But does social equity not count if we wait a year or two - why do we need to rush to be among the first Towns to opt-in here and now, without any regard for public opinion or zoning consideration? Note: our neighbors in Pound Ridge have opted in (they did so originally, and did not flip-flop as we did) and that sounds like it would be the perfect case study to base our decision on down the road.

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