Bayonne has again passed new regulations for the local cannabis industry, the time pertaining to the application process for licenses and the location of establishments.
The City Council adopted two ordinances at its September 21 meeting after being introduced in August. For more information on the changes, read past reporting by the Bayonne Community News at: hudsonreporter.com/2022/09/01/bayonne-proposes-further-amendments-to-cannabis-regulations.
The City Council first codified recreational cannabis regulations by adopting an ordinance in March of 2021. Then, in April of this year, the City Council adopted an additional two ordinances that restricted the location of cannabis establishments in the city to the commercial and industrial area east of Route 440 and overhauled many of the existing cannabis regulations.
Now the city has again amended the regulations, as one of the newly adopted ordinances furthers restrict where cannabis establishments could be located. Previously, establishments are only allowed in the H-C Highway Commercial and Selected Light Industrial District, as well as the I-H Heavy Industrial District.
While those districts mostly exist on the east side of Bayonne to the east of Route 440, some of that zoning extends into the west side of Bayonne, abutting residential areas on Avenue A near the Bayonne Bridge. To prevent establishments from opening in that area, the City Council has restricted the establishments strictly to the east of Route 440 and outside of certain I-H properties.
Under the regulations, the city allows Class I Cannabis cultivator licenses, Class II Cannabis manufacturer license, Class V Cannabis retailer licenses, and Class VI Cannabis delivery licenses. Bayonne is permitting one cultivator, one manufacturer, two retailers, and two delivery service licenses in total.
There are a number of other changes to the cannabis regulations under the second ordinance as well, pertaining to preliminary application and review process, administration fees, and support resolution, among other topics.
Council wants establishments in ‘shopping area’
At the public hearing for the first ordinance pertaining to the location of cannabis establishments, City Council President Gary La Pelusa delineated the changes.
“What we did was we changed this in reference to where the locations for cannabis will be located,” La Pelusa said. “There was a section of Avenue A downtown that was in this heavy commercial industrial area. So we are taking that out of the zoning.”
La Pelusa said the area in question was close to where Best Foods used to be, now Amazon. “We’re limiting it to Route 440… on the east side,” La Pelusa said.
Resident Cheryl Riscart took issue with that, noting that the previous regulations would have allowed establishments on Broadway, which is more accessible to those without vehicles than Route 440.
“Putting the cannabis dispensary on Route 440 makes it difficult for people that don’t drive,” Riscart said. “It’s expensive as it is, so that means that people who don’t drive have to pay a taxi with someone to get them there. The town isn’t that exclusive where we shouldn’t have this sold on Broadway, Avenue A, Best Foods, anywhere.”
After another resident echoed Riscart about restricting cannabis to east of Route 440 when there are liquor stores on every corner, La Pelusa said the City Council is deciding to limit the number.
“There’s only going to be two retail locations in Bayonne,” La Pelusa said. “Then we’re going a have a vote on it, and that’s when the council can tell you what their thoughts are. My thoughts are that I really didn’t want it in a residential area, which is Avenue A. This specific ordinance is changing the zoning so it will not be allowed on those both blocks of Avenue A where there’s homes around it. I wanted it more in a shopping area, which it’s already allowed on Route 440… I don’t want it around schools.”
Walkability to area assured by officials
When asked, La Pelusa said the establishments would be close to pedestrian bridges: “I’m sorry to those who have to take a cab or whatever. If it was located uptown, and you live downtown, you would have to take a cab to that too. So it’s difficult to say where we could put it and make the most people happy. But where it’s located on 440, it’s sort of centrally located as well.”
According to La Pelusa, the Cannabis Review Board has not been seated yet. He said, “Right now, there’s no board. This has to past first, then the board will be decided.”
Following that, former City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski asked La Pelusa to clarify if the city had already decided on an exact location for one of the establishments, since he said the location would be central and near a pedestrian bridge. La Pelusa said that was not the case.
“It’s not already decided,” La Pelusa said. “I have no idea who is going to open up.”
Ashe-Nadrowski asked if the application was available yet, to which La Pelusa noted it has not been posted by the city yet so he could not know who would be interested. However, she argued it could have still been predetermined.
“It could have been decided anyway,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. La Pelusa shirked off the suggestion with a simple “No.”
During the public hearing for the second ordinance, Law Director Jay Coffey noted that enforcement of regulations and those who report violations will include: the Police Department, city engineer, construction official, Health Department, among other municipal officials. The City Council voted unanimously to adopt both ordinances.
Read the full first ordinance at: bayonnenj.org/_Content/pdf/ordinances/O-13-Chapter-39-RECREATIONAL-CANNABIS-8.15.22.pdf.
Read the full second ordinance at: bayonnenj.org/_Content/pdf/ordinances/O-12-CHAPTERS-35-AN-ORDINANCE-OF-THE-CITY-OF-BAYONNE.pdf.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.