By PETE WALTON
Those living near proposed sites for cannabis businesses in Neptune City continue to ask questions but borough officials are unable to answer them because of pending lawsuits, one of which was filed by two of the neighbors.
Mayor Andrew C. Wardell said at this week’s meeting of the Borough Council that he plans to introduce new legislation regarding the legal sale of marijuana in Neptune City and will do so once it is legally possible.
“I want you to feel assured that we will never do anything that will hurt anybody,” the mayor said. “I wish I could elaborate more into what I mean by that. Hopefully, when these lawsuits are thrown out like I anticipate, we’ll be able to speak more freely.”
Councilwoman Pamela Renee agreed with the mayor’s remarks about the borough’s inability to comment because of the legal challenges.
“I look forward to the time when we can comment,” she said. “We want to add more amendments.”
Renee said she believed the controversy was helping to bring the town closer together.
Wardell said all six members of the council read the e-mails sent to email@example.com regarding the retail cannabis proposals.
He said that the comments are taken seriously by himself and the council, and that members of the governing body share many of the concerns which are being expressed.
“Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of wrong information being circulated throughout town, and I think intentionally so to cause fear,” the mayor added.
Two entities, Shipwreck’d LLC and Ivy Hall New Jersey LLC, told the council they were considering sites at 23 and 35 W. Sylvania Ave., respectively, for their operations.
Former mayor Ted Wardell, father of the current mayor, said he believed the two locations were “horrible” because of “traffic and so forth.” Both properties are immediately adjacent to a residential area.
Ted Wardell said he trusted the bipartisan council to make the right decisions on the matter.
One of the pending lawsuits was filed on behalf of attorney Eugene P. O’Connell and Melida Rodas, who live nearby. They are asking state Superior Court Judge Lisa P. Thornton, sitting in Freehold, to declare two ordinances and two resolutions approved by the council “invalid, void and contrary to law.” During the public comment portion of this week’s meeting, O’Connell provided a timeline of events related to the cannabis proceedings, largely taken from The Coaster’s reporting on the subject over the last year and a half.
Another suit was filed by The Cannabis Shoppe LLC and is pending before state Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman, also sitting in Freehold.
Attorneys for the corporation say it was not given a chance to make a presentation to the committee which the borough set up 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.
The two judges overseeing the lawsuits have not set dates for further proceedings, according to the court’s online information system.