PULASKI – As one of the few towns and villages in Oswego County to opt in to New York state’s legalization of marijuana by last year’s Dec. 31 deadline, thereby allowing for both the sale and consumption of cannabis, Pulaski is moving ahead with creating zoning applicable to both of those new freedoms.

“We had our public hearing April 28th, and we have drafted the local laws that are going to be on our agenda for passing on the 9th regarding cannabis zoning,” Pulaski Mayor Jan Tighe said in a recent interview. “We realize this may be subject to change in regards to more state regulations coming out, but we thought we should have something in place so at least people know where the village stands as far as the zoning for any dispensaries.”

These local laws will pertain to both dispensaries and consumption. “We didn’t opt out of anything,” Tighe said.

According to Tighe, regarding dispensaries: “It (the proposed zoning law) just says they’ll be allowed in a B-2 with a special permit and in the industrial zone. B-1 is downtown and the historic district. They aren’t going to be allowed there. B-2 is mainly Rome Road (Route 13). And it’s the commercial area of Route 13, not the residential.”

Regarding where consumption of marijuana will be allowed: “Right now,” Tighe said, “New York state law is they can smoke pretty much on a public street. When that law first came out, the village board prohibited any smoking on any village property, no matter what you’re smoking.”

Village property includes the parks and a number of buildings. “That’s been in place for quite a while. They were always no smoking, but we also added signs so people understand it also includes cannabis.”

Basically, that part of the new zoning law is just an extension of the prohibition of smoking already in place.

“My understanding,” Tighe continued, “is we cannot interfere with any of the New York state laws. So if the New York state law says you can smoke cannabis on a public street, there’s not much we can do about it. There are some things in the law where it has to be so many feet from a school or a house of worship, and so forth.”

Dispensaries will have to get a state license first before opening for business in Pulaski. So far, the state has only allowed growers to obtain licenses to grow marijuana legally. No licenses for the sale of marijuana to the public have been issued.

Tighe said no one spoke at the April 28 public hearing on the proposed zoning law.

In other news, Pulaski has been awarded a $1.54 million grant by the state towards their ongoing $6.16 million sewer project. Tighe would not be surprised if the final cost comes in at more than $6.16 million, but she also hopes to see more funding come in too.

“It’ll probably be more before it’s finished,” Tighe said of the project’s final cost. “Hopefully we’ll get some more grant money in addition to some zero percent loans.”

The sewer project has been in the works, Tighe said, for “maybe three years. The preliminary engineering is done. There are notices going out from the Sewer Board notifying people that they will be contacted shortly by either someone from the village or someone from the engineering company.

“Basically, they want to connect as many sump pumps as possible to the storm sewers instead of the sanitary sewers. That’s the goal of the project, so there is no storm water going into the sewer system. It’s expensive to process anything through the wastewater treatment plant. So, we’re processing stormwater and runoff that doesn’t need to go through the sewer system. If it ends up in a sewer pipe it’ll wind up at the wastewater treatment plant. If it goes into a storm sewer, it’s just considered runoff. It just runs into the watershed. It doesn’t need to be processed. And that will increase the capacity for the wastewater treatment plant,” Tighe said.

“There’s also a plan that the sewer project will be doing ultraviolet treatment (of the sewage water) instead of chemical. So, that will help protect the Salmon River. And that’s quite expensive. So, the wastewater treatment plant is switching from chemical to ultraviolet treatment and also trying to get as much infiltration of stormwater out of the sewer system as possible.”

The stormwater and sanitary sewer systems are two separate systems, “unless people hook up a sump pump to their sewer system,” Tighe continued. “At one point they had a program quite a few years ago where they tried to deal with this, and it was somewhat successful, but it needs to be done again.”

When storm water is allowed to enter the sewer system, Tighe said, “you’re putting a lot more liquid into that sewer system than it can handle. So, it’s putting a strain on the whole system, and it’s not going to work as efficiently as if it was only treating actual sewer waste. To the best of my knowledge, everything that goes down your drain (in your house) or down your toilet, goes into the sewer system. But, if your basement floods and you have a sump pump, you should be really pumping that into the stormwater system and not putting it into your sewer system. And we have grant money and loan money to help people get that done.”

Sometimes basements flood and sewage backs up into the basement. “Well,” Tighe said, “that’s what happens when there’s more sewage than the sewer system can handle.”

A pamphlet on the village’s sewer project is being mailed out to village residents, Tighe said. The following is from that pamphlet:

“The village’s sanitary sewer system has been plagued with unwanted stormwater flows from residential and commercial property sump pumps, floor drains, etc., for decades. The stormwater flow consumes capacity in the sewer system, pump stations, and wastewater treatment plant limiting residential and commercial development in the village. The wastewater treatment plant struggles during rain events because of this additional flow to provide proper treatment potentially jeopardizing the water quality of the Salmon River.

“Over the past four years, as part of a capital improvement project, the village Sewer Board has been developing an implementation plan to reduce unwanted stormwater flow connections from the sanitary sewer. Recently, the village successfully obtained funding to help residential and commercial property owners disconnect stormwater connections to the sewer system.

“In the next couple months, the village DPW and our consultants for this project will be knocking on doors requesting access to houses and buildings to look for stormwater connections to the sewer system. This will help the village quantify the number of stormwater connections and ultimately develop construction drawings to provide a solution to this decades-long issue. The village was awarded grant funding to help pay for these improvements. We look forward to working with you to make the village a better place.”

And finally, on another topic of interest, Tighe noted, “The Tree Committee planted 10 trees on that commercial area on Rome Road on Saturday to help celebrate the 150th anniversary for Arbor Day, and the village of Pulaski is going to apply for Tree City status. There are four qualifications that you have to do,” she said. “You have to celebrate Arbor Day; you have to have a tree ordinance; you have to have a Tree Committee or a Tree Department; and you have to have some money in your budget for trees. I think we can check all those boxes, and we’re going to apply. And it opens up another avenue for grant money, and obviously it benefits the village and the environment. We planted 17 trees last fall, and we planted 10 this last Saturday, and then we’re hoping to do at least a minimum of five more, one for every 10 years of celebrating Arbor Day. I’m not sure if we’ll do them this spring, but we definitely are planning on doing some more tree planting in the fall.

“At this point,” Tighe continued, “the Tree Committee is operating on grant money and donations. People can do a memorial tree. We partnered with Foster-Hax funeral home. They have a site on their website where you can do a memorial tree. And also with PROP, which stands for Preservation and Revitalization Of Pulaski. They have it on their website, and we have the paper copies in our office. It’s $250 a tree, and that is the tree, perpetual care, and a memorial brick that’ll say the tree was planted in memory of… and who planted it, if they so choose. If they just want to plant a tree, they don’t have to do a brick.”

And the trees that will be planted? “Right now we’re doing a variety of native hardwoods,” Tighe said.

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