Hoboken City Council enacts new cannabis regulations

The council also approved amendments to the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan

The Hoboken City Council at their May 18 meeting. Photo by Mark Koosau.

At the Hoboken City Council’s latest meeting, the council considered more cannabis regulations, including grandfathering dispensaries and expanding the Cannabis Review Board, and adopted amendments for the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan.

More cannabis regulations

The ordinance adopted for grandfathering says that existing medical cannabis dispensaries that want to sell recreational cannabis will have to get approval from the local Cannabis Review Board and the Planning Board.

The dispensaries can apply regardless of other previously proposed or approved facilities in the city, and will also be exempt from the proximity limitations from other dispensaries at 500 feet, or primary or secondary schools at 600 feet.

Plus, any approved dispensaries that sell both medical and recreational cannabis will count as one facility in calculating the new cannabis store limits for up to six city-wide and up to three per ward.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher was opposed to the grandfathering ordinance saying it would grant an exception to Harmony and Terrapin. Photo by Mark Koosau.

At a previous meeting during its first introduction, the ordinance was reintroduced because of an amendment to clarify that any applicants cannot be approved by the city until 12 months after final approval by the state of New Jersey to sell medical cannabis, to comply with state law.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said that while she isn’t opposed to dispensaries in general, she was opposed to the ordinance because Harmony and Terrapin, two medical dispensaries in the southeast part of the city, are less than 500 feet from each other and would be granted an exception from the rules that requires a distance at such measures.

“We had two medical dispensaries that came to us and said they absolutely had no plans to be recreational in the future, even though everyone knew we’d have recreational,” she said. “Now here we are. We’re just changing the rules for them, and they knew that way back when, so that’s just what it is.”

Terrapin is currently applying to sell recreational cannabis, but was told by the Cannabis Review Board earlier this week that they need to wait a year after operating before applying to sell recreational cannabis.

Councilman Joe Quintero on the other side was supportive of the ordinance because of the clarifications that were added regarding the 12 month rule, and argued that alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis.

Councilman Joe Quintero supported the ordinance because of the clarifications it made regarding the 12 month rule. Photo by Mark Koosau.

“I would caution and take a look at all the new ordinances that we come up with to piecemeal this thing moving forward,” he said. “Are they actually doing anything? I’m not a huge fan of doing window dressing. Last time, I voted for something that did nothing, [and] this is something that actually does add a clarification.“

The ordinance was adopted 5-4, with Fisher and Council members Michael DeFusco, Ruben Ramos and Jen Giattino voting no.

Another ordinance expanding the Cannabis Review Board was introduced unanimously by the council, after having been voted down at the previous meeting.

The ordinance would expand the number of members on the board from three to seven. The four new members would be Hoboken residents, with two appointed by the City Council to serve a two year term, and two appointed by the mayor to serve for the mayor’s own term in office.

It will also require the board and the applicant to agree to a community host agreement, and to be referred to the mayor for final negotiation and be approved by the City Council.

Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan

The council also unanimously adopted amendments for the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan, now known as Hoboken Connect. The amendments include renovations for the historic Ferry Terminal and Warrington Plaza, as well as creating residential and commercial buildings.

The Ferry Terminal is proposed to have market space on the first floor and a programmable space on the second floor, and Warrington Plaza is being envisioned as a public space and to include flood resilience.

Councilman Michael DeFusco was upbeat about the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan that had amendments to it adopted. Photo by Mark Koosau.

Site 1 of the redevelopment plan is a proposed commercial building that could be up to 20-stories and 635,000 square foot, and Site 2 will be a residential building that can expand up to 29 stories at 361,550 square feet, with 389 units and 79 set aside as affordable housing being proposed.

DeFusco, whose 1st Ward includes the area of the redevelopment, was upbeat about the project as a whole.

“Everyone’s worked incredibly hard to deliver, not just some typical project proposal, but a pivotal project that is going to redefine the state of New Jersey and change the area in the next couple of years,” he said. “So kudos to everyone.”

Other legislation

They council unanimously adopted an ordinance that adjusts the process for getting activity permits in city parks. Under the new changes, any person seeking a permit must supply all required supporting documents, and the Director of Environmental Services may add more rules for events in the application.

Those that apply for a permit must also agree to clean the area used at their own cost and expense at the end of the rental period, as well as obtain any other necessary permits from city departments or divisions. A rental fee will also not be applied if the permittee doesn’t charge a fee to participants.

The council passed a resolution for a $35,000 contract to Brightview Engineering to assist the Department of Community Development to create a redevelopment area designation evaluation for multiple property lots, including the police department headquarters, Garages B, D and G, and 5 Marine View Plaza.

A similar contract at $33,000 was previously voted down last month. The new contract was approved 5-4, with DeFusco, Fisher, Ramos and Giattino voting no.

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.