The Story Dispensary is not suited for its Hoboken neighborhood

Dear Editor:

The June 9th Hoboken Planning Board meeting on the application for a cannabis dispensary in a residential area of 14th Street clearly demonstrated that the location chosen by the dispensary owner – Story Dispensary of Hoboken LLC – and backed by city officials is inappropriate and bound to have a negative impact on our residential neighborhood.

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The Story Dispensary will clearly present parking, crowd, noise, and safety problems for the neighborhood – which was not adequately addressed by the Story representative who testified at the Planning Board meeting.

The Story Dispensary is estimating 100 transactions per day. This is a low, unrealistic estimate. If that number were accurate, it is unlikely that Story would net the income it needs to make a profit. In addition, Story is planning to construct a 9 register retail business which is more space than needed for 100 transactions per day. Each register would handle just 11 transactions a day? By purposely lowballing the daily transaction number, Story is masking the human and vehicle traffic impact on the neighborhood What if the real transaction number is 200 or 300 a day? What will be the transaction numbers for the weekend, when the city is already crowded with visitors – 300? 400?

Story’s projected daily transaction numbers don’t make sense given the impact statement submitted to the city. Story chose the 14thStreet location because of its proximity to the 14th Street ferry, the NJ Transit bus stop as well as the Hoboken terminal. This is an obvious indication that Story plans to market its dispensary products to people in a wide geographic area, which will likely bring far more than 100 customers a day to the dispensary – especially on the weekend.

While all those visitors may not come by car, some will – and they will exacerbate the neighborhood’s traffic and parking problems. The Story Dispensary has said it addressed the parking and traffic problems by securing 15 parking spots at the Little Man Garage on 12th and Shipyard Lane. Those spots are for the cannabis delivery trucks, 10 or so employees, and customers. Is this really enough parking spots?

Story claims its average transaction time will be from 3 to 15 minutes. Assuming that is true, parking behavior for a transaction time that short is double park or slip into the illegal corner or hydrant spot, put on the hazards, and hurry into a retail store for a quick transaction. In our fast-paced and impatient world, nobody is going to double their time spent going to the dispensary by parking 3 blocks away. There is little doubt the traffic congestion at that corner will be impacted by the dispensary. Will the police be on hand to stop the double parking?

The potential for loitering is quite high at this location and Story executives say that their armed guards can do only so much to move people along. That raises the question about police response to loitering, as well as double parking. With up to 5 other dispensaries in the city, does our police department have the manpower to address quality of life issues at all the dispensary locations?

The claims by Story are all speculation and assumptions that are vastly untested. This seems like a big experiment with likely bad outcomes for residents in a densely populated part of town. This is a poor location for the city to start experimenting with cannabis dispensaries. Another dispensary applicant, if approved, would be located at 15th and Grand Street, which has fewer residents, less traffic, and more parking. Let’s start there.

Elizabeth Urtecho

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