Hoboken council members call for withdrawal of retail cannabis applicant

Applicants are looking to open a store at former Hudson Tavern site

Council members Ruben Ramos (far left) and Jen Giattino (middle right) called on Story Dispensary to withdraw their application. Photo by Mark Koosau.

A number of Hoboken council members are calling on a retail cannabis applicant to withdraw their application for a store in the northeast corner of the city, continuing a controversy over that applicant and broader discussions about cannabis within the Mile Square City.

The applicants, Story Dispensary, are looking to open a retail cannabis store at 51-53 14th St. at the former Hudson Tavern, which closed last year. While Story received approval from the Cannabis Review Board last February, they have been criticized by residents in the area wary of how a potential cannabis store would affect their neighborhood.

“My neighbors moved to this residential area because it was family friendly, quiet and close to the Hudson River waterfront walkway,” said Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who has opposed the applicants in her 2nd Ward. “They did not move to a tourist destination and party zone which is feared what will happen if the Hudson Tavern dispensary moves forward.”

Fisher was also joined by Council members Michael DeFusco, Ruben Ramos and Jen Giattino in calling for Story’s withdrawal. “We haven’t yet figured out what this means for today’s children and communities,” said Giattino in a statement. “And in a town with an increasing number of families and children, where we all share the same backyard, a more measured approach is what is needed.”

The backlash to Story led to the City Council approving new cannabis regulations last week, which limited the amount of cannabis stores (both medical and retail) to six, and banned dispensaries from being located in a commercial zone that consists of 1st St, the north side of Washington St. and 14th St.

Council President Michael Russo, who’s also a member of the cannabis board and has supported the applicants, said that the council members have their right to ask for any business in town to withdraw their applications.

“We and they [four] have all agreed to the process of the zoning,” he said. “All these things were voted unanimously by the city council and the city of Hoboken. If members changed their minds on that process and that location, they will certainly have the ability to express that and attempt to make any changes.”

Representatives from Story Hoboken did not respond for comment. A Hoboken spokesperson also did not respond for comment on the council members’ calls.

Hoboken Planning Board secretary Patricia Carcone said in an email that the project was deemed complete by the board on April 12 and that a hearing date can be scheduled. A hearing will be planned for June or July.

Story Dispensary will need Planning Board and City Council approval for their store, alongside state approval.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.