Letter: Opponents of Legislation Deserve Equal Time

Cannabis joints are coming to Tarrytown.

[Ed. Note — This letter was sent to the Tarrytown Board of Trustees by the writer.  You can see the Board’s response HERE]

I wanted to comment on the process by which Tarrytown chose not to “opt out” of allowing dispensaries after hearing the comments made by several members of the public at the Board of Trustees meeting of Tuesday, Jan. 3.
While a few public hearings were held, overall there was little public comment considering the gravity of what was at stake.  This should have been a warning sign that perhaps people were not aware of what was about to happen.  The Board, as usual, took this silence to mean that there was relatively little opposition to allowing dispensaries.
As you discovered that night, apparently for the first time, there is quite a bit of opposition which I believe will only increase as the public becomes more aware of the, in my opinion, misguided decision you have made.  The vigorous applause from the public after every comment in opposition to dispensaries was very telling, especially given that it appeared that nobody was at the meeting to speak about dispensaries (other than me).  People were there for Accessory Dwelling Units but chose to speak about dispensaries, because they happened to be there and learned that dispensaries were to be allowed for the first time.
I bring this up because I was disappointed with the Board last year at their lack of outreach on this matter and continue to be disappointed.  You will recall that at the outset of the discussion about cannabis, a Trustee thought it would be appropriate to have an advocate for the industry attend the meeting and comment, as if this might offer some kind of objective viewpoint.  Glaringly missing from the Board’s outreach was anyone who might offer a differing opinion.  While I have come to expect this kind of one-sided “stacked deck” process, as exemplified by allowing proponents of whatever legislation the Board supports to have unlimited presentation time while allowing those impacted, the residents, only three minutes to speak, I don’t like it and don’t think it’s right.
There are two suggestions for improvement I can make since the train has already left the station on cannabis and can’t be recalled back:
  1. A workshop for improving the cannabis legislation should be organized so that the Board can truly understand how receptive residents are to having dispensaries on Main Street and Broadway in the downtown.  Barring this, a simple pulse survey could be taken asking the question.  This would at least help guide future restrictions/improvements to the zoning law which was passed last night.
  2. Anytime significant legislation is to be discussed, it is imperative that if the Village is going to invite one side to cheerlead for a cause, potentially with unlimited presentation time, the Board should also consider seeking out, inviting, and allowing unlimited presentation time to an opposing view.  Otherwise, you are making a decision based on incomplete information, something I know none of you would ever want to be perceived as doing.
Thanks for your consideration,
Peter Bartolacci

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