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Union Springs revises marijuana law to allow Cayuga Nation sales

From the Coverage: Who's 'opting out' of marijuana sales in the Cayuga County area? series
Lakeside Trading

Lakeside Trading in Union Springs in 2014.

Hoping to avoid a legal battle with the Cayuga Nation, the village of Union Springs has revised its draft of a local law opting out of parts of the state's Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

The revision proposes the creation of a new zoning district that contains Lakeside Trading, the gas station and tobacco shop the nation operates in the northern part of the village. The new district would be zoned highway commercial. Its allowable uses would include marijuana dispensaries and consumption sites, and with a special permit, wholesale growth and distribution.

So while the rest of the village would opt out of those parts of the state law, the highway commercial district would not, Union Springs Mayor Bud Shattuck told The Citizen on Thursday.

The village made the revision in hopes it will encourage the Cayuga Nation to decide to conduct any marijuana business at Lakeside Trading and not elsewhere in Union Springs, Shattuck said.

Specifically, the village believes the nation plans to open a dispensary at the former Gus's Pizzeria at 121 Cayuga St. The nation closed its purchase of the property in June. Feeling a dispensary there would cause heavy traffic in the village and negatively affect youth because of its proximity to a school, the village introduced its local law in April, days after the passage of the state law.

After the nation suggested it could challenge the local law on the grounds of tribal sovereignty, however, the village revised it with what Shattuck described as "a compromise." He has yet to communicate with the nation about the zoning proposal, so he doesn't know whether it will change the nation's plans. But he believes it makes sense for the nation to do so.

"They now have a place where they can legally (sell marijuana), without having to fight the state," Shattuck said. "They can stay out of our downtown and stay out of our school district."

Asked about its plans to sell marijuana, a nation representative offered only the following statement: "As a sovereign Indian nation, the Cayuga Nation commerce in the village of Union Springs would not be limited by a local law prohibiting retail marijuana sales. The nation continues to explore such opportunities throughout its historic 64,015-acre reservation."

On Thursday, the local law was determined to have no intermunicipal impacts by the Cayuga County General Municipal Law 239-l, m & n Review Committee, clearing the way for its passage by the village board of trustees at one of its next meetings. But first, a public hearing about the law will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 20, at the Union Springs Village Office, 26 Chapel St.

Shattuck doesn't anticipate much opposition to the local law. At a public hearing for its first draft held in April, 19 of the 23 people who spoke voiced support for it, he said. Two of the opposed cited their use of marijuana and two cited the tax revenue its sale would offer. When they begin in April 2022, sales will be taxed at 13%: 9% for the state, 3% for the municipality and 1% for the county.

Because the Cayuga Nation doesn't pay taxes, Shattuck said, Union Springs would not see revenue from its sales. But he believes that allowing the nation to sell marijuana at Lakeside Trading could save the village the cost of a court battle. And there's room within the proposed district for other businesses to open dispensaries or consumption sites that would generate revenue, Shattuck noted. 

"So this sort of makes it so we don't opt out," he said. "But most of the community wants (marijuana) out of the school zone and the downtown business area."

Read the full story from News Staff Reporter Aaron Besecker

Read the full story by Tom Precious here.

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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