Observations and concerns regarding cannabis rollout in Hoboken

Dear Editor:

As 36-year Hoboken residents, we are writing to express our observations and concerns regarding the rollout of cannabis dispensaries in general, and specifically, the proposed Story Dispensary at the site of the former Hudson Tavern restaurant. To be clear, we are not opposed to having cannabis dispensaries in Hoboken, but simply ask that the Cannabis Review Board, the Planning Board and the Hoboken City Council consider the following:

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1. The owners/applicants for the cannabis dispensary at the former Hudson Tavern revealed themselves early in the process when they represented to the seller of the site that their intention was to open a physical therapy practice there, then revised their plans once the transaction was completed. Are these the kind people our City wants to be in business with?

2. There are gross inconsistencies in the number of anticipated transactions at this location – 100 per day, as presented in the 6/9 meeting – vs the 300-400 cited by other applicants at meetings we have attended. Furthermore, the 100 transactions estimate is significantly out of line with the City’s own traffic study, which cited an estimate of 700 new trips to this area once the dispensary becomes operational. Finally, 100 daily transactions at what some industry reports suggest is a $50 average transaction does not reconcile with projected overhead costs, such as parking, staffing and some of the other commitments the applicant has made. Are we again being misled here?

3. The fact that the owner entity includes the spouse of the current mayor of Jersey City raises further questions, and speaks to the type of “shady” behavior that many of us have been working to eliminate from Hoboken politics. The optics here are quite bad and raise the question – is this the kind of city we want to be?

4. Some living in the neighborhood have expressed an appreciation for the convenience of the Hudson Tavern location, but when advised that a dispensary was approved at 15th and Grand Streets responded, “oh, that works.” Shouldn’t the city be presenting a comprehensive plan of proposed locations so that the public is fully informed? Since the City is no longer taking applications for dispensaries, it should be relatively easy to put together and share a list of the proposed locations.

5. At the May 16, 2022 meeting, the Cannabis Review Board (CRB) denied approval for a dispensary at 321 Washington Street because of traffic and congestion concerns. At that meeting, Commissioner Pellegrini voted against the dispensary, noting the concerns of a resident of the building and stating that “congestion is intense” in the area. We agree, and to be consistent on these issues, we think that the same reasoning should be applied to the Story Dispensary, which is being proposed for a more heavily residential neighborhood.

6. Further to consistency, we believe it is worth noting that the Terrapin dispensary was recently granted an exemption from the 12 month waiting period for businesses expanding from medical to adult use cannabis. Clearly, exceptions are being made and guidelines are being reconsidered. As noted at several recent Council and Board meetings, this has been a work in process for the past year, and our management of the process should also remain fluid. In this context, we ask that the Story Dispensary be declined at the 14th Street location, for the good of our neighborhood and the integrity of our City.

Debbie Jacobus and Bob Conrad
5th Ward Residents

 

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