Town says proposed dispensary doesn’t meet zoning requirements

Bill San Antonio

An application to open Nassau County’s lone medical marijuana dispensary in Lake Success does not meet the Town of North Hempstead’s zoning requirements, officials said Tuesday.

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and town Attorney Elizabeth Botwin each said during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s Town Council meeting that the town had first learned of the Staten Island-based Bloomfield Industries Inc.’s interest in opening a facility at 2001 Marcus Ave. after it had been reported in local newspapers and television stations

Though Botwin said an application for the dispensary was not filed to the town’s building department, a town analysis revealed it would not have met the zoning requirements for medical facilities.

“I’ve always taken the stance that I support medical marijuana. It is a lifesaver for people who are suffering through some terrible illnesses and this is our state law that they are able to get relief by using this,” Bosworth said. “So when we say it’s not compliant with the zoning, it’s not compliant with our zoning.”

Bloomfield was one of the five organizations awarded the opportunity to manufacture and dispense medical marijuana under last year’s Compassionate Care Act, which would allow patients suffering from designated conditions to have access to medical marijuana beginning in 2016.

News of the proposal was met with opposition from some New Hyde Park residents who said the dispensary would be located within walking distance of schools, churches and ball fields, and that school district officials had been notified of the application.

“We as parents are worried about our children’s safety,” New Hyde Park resident Carmela Aloe told the council. “We don’t have buses that take our kids back and forth to school. Our kids walk to school in our area.”

Bosworth questioned the proposed Nassau location in Lake Success, saying “it just seems odd” that it would sit near the Queens border and not a more central point within the county.

Efforts to reach Bloomfield officials were unavailing. 

But Michael O’Donald, former president of the North New Hyde Park Civic Association, said the nearest public school, Manor Oaks Elementary School, is located nearly three miles away from the proposed site, and the nearest Catholic school, the Notre Dame School, is about a mile away. 

He also added that the office building at 2001 Marcus Avenue is located uphill nearly two stories, fortifying it from access by children, and that there are no nearby residential areas.

“There’s no schools, there’s no churches, there’s nothing near it,” McDonald said.

Dr. Richard Carlton, a Port Washington psychiatrist, implored the town to consider Bloomfield’s application, citing patients he treated in New Jersey whose conditions significantly improved after using medical marijuana.

“I don’t know the zoning issues of this building, but I do know it’s not a storefront, it’s in an office building, and I think wherever it gets situated, it’ll be a ‘not in my backyard’ issue and people will resent that,” he said.

Bloomfield’s application said the dispensary would open in December, with hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

In addition to Lake Success, Bloomfield also applied to open dispensaries in Manhattan, Syracuse, and in Williamsville, a suburb in Erie County, as well as a main manufacturing center on Borden Avenue in Long Island City.

The proposed Lake Success dispensary would be named the Lake Success Patient Resource Center.

The state Health Department began accepting registered organization applications on April 27, which included a non-refundable $10,000 application fee and a $200,000 registration fee which would be refunded should the applicant be denied.

Botwin said the application involved only the state Health Department and Bloomfield.

Under the Compassionate Care Act, patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy and Huntington’s disease would be eligible for the program, and insurance providers, Medicare and Medicaid would not have to cover prescriptions for medical marijuana.

The law prohibits users from smoking medical marijuana and gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo the power to suspend or terminate the program if it is abused by patients or medical professionals.

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