The Hoboken City Council has expanded the city’s smoking ban in parks, introduced amendments for the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan, and held off on ending the city’s rent increase moratorium.
Smoking ban, new cannabis regulations
As the council continues to oversee more regulations for cannabis in the Mile Square City, they unanimously adopted an ordinance that expands the smoking ban in all city parks to clarify that prohibited substances include tobacco, cannabis and vapes.
The updates to the ordinance were so that residents know that cannabis is included in the ban list, according to Corporation Counsel Brian Aiola.
His notes on the matter followed a discussion between the council members and new Public Safety Director Ken Ferrante on how police enforcement over cannabis would work, based on when then-New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal ordered all law enforcement agencies to stop making arrests for minor weed crimes after the state legalized marijuana.
Ferrante said that while the ordinance would allow for a summons to be issued, he said that after speaking with Acting Police Chief Steven Aguiar that their ultimate goal is to do an educational campaign first, and that they’ll have to update the signage about the summons.
Aiola also said that while the ordinance is clear that cannabis wouldn’t be allowed, and whether police can enforce cannabis usage or not is based on what the Attorney General says, all of what they said wasn’t legal advice and was just a general discussion.
The council unanimously introduced another ordinance for more cannabis restrictions, which would ban cannabis shops from being permitted on Marine View 1 and 2. They also passed a resolution to refer it to the Planning Board.
An ordinance introduced at the last meeting to add the original cannabis restrictions based on the recommendations by Mayor Ravi Bhalla was carried over to the next meeting when the council passed a resolution to refer it to the planning board.
The council unanimously introduced an ordinance to add amendments to the Yards Redevelopment Plan, now known as Hoboken Connect, that includes plans for renovating the historic Ferry Terminal and Warrington Plaza, as well as two high-rise commercial and residential towers, following a presentation on it last week. They also passed a resolution to refer it to the Planning Board.
An ordinance that would have set how the city’s rent increase moratorium ended was amended and reintroduced on first reading unanimously, due to technical clarifications based on feedback they got on it, but said it was the same as it was initially.
The moratorium is set to expire on May 7, two months to the day that the city ended its COVID-19 State of Emergency. The ordinance stipulates that while landlords may begin increasing rent again, no CPI increase from April 1, 2020 to the end of that year will be allowed. There must also be a 30-day notice of any increases following the end of the moratorium.
The March 23 meeting was the last to be held virtually, as the council plans to come back in-person at City Hall on April 6. The council’s meetings had been virtual since the beginning of the pandemic.