By PETE WALTON
Neptune City is facing two lawsuits over plans for the sale of legal marijuana in the borough.
A suit filed by two Steiner Avenue residents says the Borough Council’s retail cannabis ordinance was “arbitrarily, capriciously, improperly and illegitimately adopted.”
A separate legal action by a company seeking one of two proposed licenses to sell marijuana says the borough’s process for awarding resolutions of support to two other companies “was biased and subjective and, as a result, arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
Filing of the suits prompted Neptune City’s municipal attorney to advise Mayor Andrew C. Wardell and the six-member council not to respond to comments and questions posed by citizens at the most recent meeting of the governing body.
Attorney Eugene P. O’Connell and Melida Rodas, are asking state Superior Court Judge Lisa P. Thornton, sitting in Freehold, to declare two ordinances and two resolutions unanimously approved by the bipartisan council “invalid, void and contrary to law.”
O’Connell and Rodas say the adoption of the four measures was “accomplished without regard for the general welfare of the Borough of Neptune City and its property owners, does not advance the health, safety and welfare of the borough’s residents and property owners, is not in the best interest of good zoning and planning, is inconsistent with the borough’s master plan, and was adopted contrary to law as a violation of plaintiffs’ constitutional due process.”
The complaint takes aim at the council’s resolutions of support for two companies seeking to sell marijuana in the borough.
“The cannabis retailers the defendants support are located adjacent to each other and adjacent to the residential zone in the Borough of Neptune City,” the suit alleges. “The driveway[s] for ingress and egress for both establishments are located on Steiner Avenue, a residential zone.”
The two properties being considered have addresses on West Sylvania Avenue.
The proximity of the proposed retail sites to each other and to a residential area is also addressed in the separate action filed by The Cannabis Shoppe LLC, which is now pending before state Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman, also sitting in Freehold.
Attorneys for The Cannabis Shoppe (TCS) say the company was not given a chance to make a presentation to the committee which the borough established to review applications for the two marijuana retail licenses.
According to the suit, “the location proposed by TCS was superior in every respect” to the sites proposed by the two applicants who received resolutions of support from the council, Shipwreck’d LLC and Ivy Hall New Jersey LLC. The two firms told the council they were considering locations at 23 and 35 W. Sylvania Ave., respectively. At those addresses, West Sylvania Avenue is also New Jersey Route 35.
“TCS’s proposed location was a standalone building with off-street parking that would not exacerbate the traffic situation on Route 35,” the company’s suit says. “In addition, TCS’s proposed location is next to a bus lot, and not immediately adjacent to residential homes.”
The site being considered by TCS is believed to be the former ice cream parlor building on the northeast corner of Route 35 and Third Avenue.
The TCS suit asks Judge Bauman to stop the borough from “proceeding with [the] permitting process at the municipal level for Class 5 cannabis retailer licenses.”
TCS also wants the court to stop Shipwreck’d and Ivy Hall “from relying upon the resolution[s] of support” approved by the council.