A permissive referendum will be held March 21, allowing voters to decide whether retail cannabis dispensaries should be permitted in Dobbs Ferry.
The referendum resulted from a petition, signed by 1,555 residents, that was launched after the village board voted unanimously on Dec. 13, 2022 to allow dispensaries, reversing the board’s 4-3 decision to opt out of dispensaries on Nov. 23, 2021. Three seats on the seven-member board changed hands by the second vote.
To force a referendum, a petition must be filed no more than 30 days after a resolution/local law is passed. The petition needs signatures from 20 percent of registered voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election, and who are qualified to vote in the November election. The signatures are reviewed by a village clerk or other designated authority, and then by the Westchester County Board of Elections, to establish their validity.
Before the November 2021 vote, a petition urging the village board to opt in to allowing dispensaries garnered 188 signatures, while an opt-out petition garnered 442 signatures.
Dobbs Ferry resident Ali Moss, who helped circulate the opt-in petition, told the Enterprise on Feb. 21, “We stopped gathering signatures after the board of trustees initially voted to opt out. A few more people signed leading up to the board of trustees’ reconsideration this December, but it is outdated and not in active circulation.”
Dobbs Ferry resident Cirstin Conneely helped collect signatures for the petition in favor of a referendum.
“People came out of the woodwork,” she told the Enterprise on Feb. 20. “No matter what comes out of the vote, democracy is alive and well. That part is very inspiring. People from very different political perspectives came together.”
On Feb. 16, according to Moss, the Dobbs Ferry Democratic Committee, of which she is a member, voted to support efforts to pass the referendum.
The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., at locations to be determined. There will be no early voting, and regular rules for absentee ballots apply.
In November 2022, Mayor Vincent Rossillo explained that the village board decided to reexamine the vote from one year earlier due, in part, to the change in trustees. Trustees Shari Rosen Ascher and Matt Rosenberg were sworn into office in December 2021, while Trustee Jessica Galen assumed office in December 2022.
Rossillo added that “The State has been making progress regarding clarifying and codifying rules and regulations pertaining to cannabis dispensaries. As part of the process, the board is also reviewing our zoning code to determine what locations would be suitable for dispensaries.”
The board has considered restricting dispensaries to Cedar Street and Main Street south to just beyond Chestnut Street; the intersection of Ashford Avenue and Broadway; Chauncey Park; and near 145 Palisade Street.
Ardsley and Irvington opted out of allowing dispensaries in 2021 while Hastings, Tarrytown, and Greenburgh opted in.
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