Village approves smoking law, sets cannabis public hearings
LAKE PLACID — Members of the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees Monday, Nov. 1 approved amendments to the smoking law and set public hearings for two laws, one each that would opt out of issuing licenses for retail sales and onsite consumption of cannabis.
The public hearings would be held at the beginning of the Nov. 15 regular village board meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. at the North Elba Town Hall. Meetings are also available to view live on a virtual platform.
On March 31, the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act went into effect, legalizing recreational cannabis use, and municipalities have until Dec. 31 to opt out of allowing recreational dispensaries and/or on-site consumption licenses in their jurisdiction.
Village board members said they expect to vote on the two laws sometime in December, indicating that they want to give village residents a chance to vote on the opt-out decision as part of the March special election to fill Trustee Jason Leon’s seat. He was elected as a North Elba town councilor on Tuesday and takes office on Jan. 1.
“The board on its own accord can move by resolution to hold the referendum,” village attorney Janet Bliss said during the Nov. 1 meeting. “In any event, you have to have a public hearing before you pass the local law. The local law — if you decide to opt out — has to be passed in this year.”
The plan is to adopt the local laws in December, then pass a resolution in January setting the cannabis referendum in March. The opt-out law is subject to a permissive referendum, meaning that 20% of village electors who were eligible for the last general election need to sign a petition in order to force a referendum. Mayor Art Devlin and trustees have said they want to skip this step and make the decision themselves to hold a referendum.
Trustees Nov. 1 also adopted the smoking in public Local Law 4-2021. The vote was 3 to 1, with Marc Galvin voting against the law and Leon, Jackie Kelly and Peter Holderied voting for it.
“Initially I was all in for this law,” Galvin explained at the meeting. “I thought having a non-smoking Lake Placid would be great. But the feedback I’ve got from business owners … a few, say two out of 20, think it’s a good idea. They think it’s really going to have a negative impact on business in town, singling out smokers.”
Leon said he understands the viewpoint from the businesses, but another issue is smoking in parks around kids: “If I had to make a choice, per se, between being empathetic with businesses or be more protectionist of families that use the parks …”
“Oh yeah, parks, absolutely,” Galvin interjected.
Holderied said Lake Placid is marketed as a non-smoking community, adding, “In my opinion, it will be beneficial.”
Leon said, “If we weren’t so tourist-centric and having a different group come in and having the same issues pop up over and over again, then maybe this might be too restrictive from my perspective. But if we want to set the tone of what our visitors can expect … I feel like we’re just setting the tone.”
The law adds smoking regulations to chapter 228 of the village code titled “Peace and Good Order.”
“The Board of Trustees of the Village of Lake Placid finds that the effects of secondary smoke generated by the smoking of cigars, cigarettes, pipes, marijuana, e-cigarettes, and/or similar products pose a threat to the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of the Village of Lake Placid who do not smoke,” reads the resolution.
The law does three things:
1. It prohibits smoking and vaping in any area of any public park.
2. It prohibits smoking and vaping on all village properties and within a 50-foot radius of all entrances to all municipal, government or library buildings and facilities located within the village that are designated as accessible by the public; provided, however, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to smoking within the boundary lines of an adjacent property.
3. And it prohibits smoking and vaping in or on any public highway, public street, public parking area, public sidewalk or any public place.
Penalties are punished by a fine of not more than $250 for a first offense; $500 for a second offense; and $750 for any offense thereafter or by imprisonment of not more than 15 days, or both.
The law takes effect immediately upon filing with the New York secretary of state’s office.