By PETE WALTON
A new ordinance introduced by the Neptune City Borough Council would end proposed plans for cannabis retail businesses near West Sylvania and Steiner avenues.
The council wants to limit the legal sale of marijuana to the highway commercial (HC) zone in the westernmost corner of the borough.
No portion of Route 35 is located in the borough’s highway commercial zone.
The vote by the bipartisan council to introduce the updated ordinance was unanimous.
There will be a public hearing and potential vote on the revised ordinance at the council’s meeting on Mon., March 27.
Mayor Andrew Wardell thanked Councilman Glen Kocsis and Council President Brian Thomas, who serve with him on the borough’s law and ordinance committee, for their work on updating the ordinance.
“They took their time to meet with our Land Use Board professionals to sit down and discuss the board’s recommendations and try to craft the changes to the ordinance as best as we could with the recommendations we were given,” the mayor said.
“They feel confident, as do both of the attorneys who were involved, that the ordinance is about as solid as it can be when it comes to protecting the concerns of the residents moving forward,” Wardell said.
According to the revised ordinance, any cannabis business must have entrances and exits on state Route 33, which is also known as Corlies Avenue. The northern boundary of Neptune City’s highway commercial zone runs from a point opposite the eastern Route 33 entrance to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, and extends westward on Route 33 just past Brighton Avenue to the border with the township of Neptune.
The marijuana sales outlets “shall not be located on any property that abuts a residential zone,” according to the revised ordinance.
The businesses would not be permitted “within 200 feet of a borough district zoned as residential.”
“Said 200 feet shall be measured in the normal way that a pedestrian would properly walk from the nearest entrance of said residential property to the nearest entrance of the premises sought to be licensed,” the proposed ordinance reads.
The borough has already limited the number of cannabis retail outlets to two. The revised ordinance says they must be located at least 1,000 feet apart.
“There shall not be any drive-through associated with any Class 5 cannabis retailer,” the ordinance states. Class 5 is the only type of marijuana business which will be permitted in Neptune City.
The establishments could only operate between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
There are no on-street parking spaces in the area where the businesses would be permitted. Mayor Wardell said state regulations require cannabis retailers to provide 50 percent more parking spaces than the number which other types of retailers must designate.
The borough Land Use Board will review the latest proposed changes to the ordinance. The board’s next scheduled meeting is Tues., March 14 at 7 p.m.
Two lawsuits involving the legal sale of marijuana in Neptune City are still listed as active in state Superior Court in Freehold.
Steiner Avenue residents Eugene P. O’Connell and Melida Rodas said the council’s current cannabis ordinance was “arbitrarily, capriciously, improperly and illegitimately adopted.”
Another suit filed by attorneys for The Cannabis Shoppe said the company was not given a chance to make a presentation to the committee which the borough established to review applications for the marijuana retail licenses.
State Superior Court Judge David Bauman has set Wed., March 22 as the date for oral arguments in the case via video conference.