Nelsonville Opts Out of Allowing Marijuana Retail

Also, Mayor Bowman says he won’t run again

After months of deliberation and public input, the Nelsonville Village Board on Monday (Dec. 20) voted 4-0 to ban marijuana shops and lounges.

New York legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults but left it up to municipalities to decide whether to allow cannabis stores or smoking lounges.  Municipalities must vote by Dec. 31 to prohibit pot enterprises but can later opt in if their views change. Philipstown opted out on Nov. 4; Cold Spring sent the issue to voters, who on Nov. 2 approved retail sales but rejected on-site consumption; and Beacon effectively opted in by not taking action.

Nelsonville Mayor Mike Bowman said residents who object to the ban can try to overturn it through a ballot referendum. The resolution passed on Monday states that the village “opts out of permitting the licensing, establishment, and operation of cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site establishments within its boundaries.”

The board had talked about opting out since spring and in November held a public hearing where most residents who offered an opinion favored a ban.

Short-term rentals

The board scheduled for Monday, then postponed until January, a public hearing on a proposal to regulate short-term rentals; one of the five board members was quarantining after a COVID-19 exposure and could not get to the meeting.

For several years — far longer than it considered the cannabis question — the Village Board has wrestled with rentals booked through sites such as Airbnb: rooms, houses and apartments provided to paying guests as vacation or weekend accommodations.

The board convened public hearings on a draft law in February and October. “I feel like I’m living in Groundhog Day,” said Bowman. “It’s the same thing over and over and over and …”

Residents have spoken passionately on both sides of the question. Board members have disagreed, as well. On Monday, Trustee Kathleen Maloney, without elaborating, opposed holding a hearing in January while Bowman and Trustees Chris Winward and Dave Moroney voted to schedule it. Nonetheless, Bowman said that, “it’s been pretty well established that there’s a majority on the board that wants to see it [regulation] move forward.”

Bowman not running

Bowman announced that he would not seek re-election as mayor in village elections scheduled for March 15. His seat, along with those held by Winward and Moroney, will be on the ballot. Each is for a two-year term.

Bowman cited increased employment responsibilities and the fact that “my son is 3½ and acutely aware when his daddy is not home, out dealing with village issues, or distracted by phone calls or texts. I want to be there for him and Donna [his wife], as much as I possibly can.”

Elected as a trustee in 2018, Bowman became mayor in 2019 when the board appointed him to succeed Chris Caccamise, who had resigned two months into his term. The following year, Bowman was elected to a full term.

“In the past three years I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished as a board and as a village, from navigating the uncertainties of COVID to making the really hard decisions to protect the village’s future, even when those decisions weren’t the most popular,” he said. “I’m most proud of the respect and dignity that you [Village Board members] have shown residents: patiently letting meetings run a little bit longer to let everyone have their say — sometimes saying it more than once, twice or three times. The greatest testament to you all is that I can make this decision without hesitation, because I know that the village is in good hands going forward.”

Chimney fires

Building Inspector Bill Bujarski noted that since early December in the Hudson Valley, “there’s been an abundance of chimney fires” that are “hot enough to burn through the chimneys.” He urged residents to get their chimneys and dryer vents cleaned. Bowman added that oil burners need checkups, as well.

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