On Cannabis and the East Hampton Town Budget

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The East Hampton Town Board, as expected, voted unanimously last Thursday to opt out of allowing cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses. 

New York State legalized adult use of cannabis with the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in March, creating an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee and implement the law. If a municipality does not opt out by Dec. 31, it cannot do so later. However, it can opt out by that deadline and then opt back in to allow retail dispensaries, on-site consumption licenses, or both.

In opting out, the board postponed a decision in order to further study the implications before potentially opting in, its multiple discussions to date having done little to further the development of a policy. There has been scant public comment on the issue.

The board also voted to adopt the town’s 2022 budget, following a public hearing earlier this month. The $85.49 million budget reflects a regrading of 115 town employees, with wage increases averaging 5 percent. It also includes funding for additional police officers and an ordinance inspector, as well as for the promotion of ordinance enforcement officers.

And the board voted to adopt a more stringent building code, an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring new construction and major renovations to achieve maximum efficiency through technology and design.

The state has set a target to have building codes require net-zero energy, meaning a structure generates as much energy as it consumes, by 2031. In 2014, the town adopted a goal of achieving all of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. Adopting more stringent building requirements will add modestly to the upfront cost of a house, but the expense pays for itself through savings on energy costs.

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