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Hoboken Approves Story & JJ Dispensaries Despite Opposition

Hoboken has made progress on the Story Dispensary and JJ Dispensary Hoboken cannabis applications despite opposition and incompetence in Public Relations.

The Hoboken Planning Board unanimously approved (8-0) the controversial Story Dispensary after five meetings that lasted for about 25 hours.

The association of the building where the dispensary would be located hired an attorney and has sued separately in court. 51-53 14th Street Condominium Association attorney Martin Calabar took every initiative to cross-examine every one of Story’s experts and even hired their own, who Story’s attorneys cross-examined.

Mobilized Opposition

The opposition did everything it could to slow the process and skew every nuance to cast doubts on Story dispensary and the process of legalization.

Many opposition members said they did not mind Hoboken cannabis. The issue was the location. However, that opposition snowballed into an ordinance severely restricting the number of dispensaries in the city with the most bars per square mile in the United States. Some were fundamentally against cannabis and seemed to think it is much worse than it is, a common problem.

“People will come from New York. They’ll come from different towns,” Christopher Ling, a planner, and architect, argued.

“A cannabis dispensary can’t be anything but located on the first floor. They have a basement. Since they have a basement, they don’t meet the definition of just being on the first floor,” he continued.

Ling argued that security cameras would have blind spots and that the dispensary would attract large crowds.

Rowdy Crowd

Story Dispensary attorney Jennifer Porter questioned Ling’s credentials as a planner, and he admitted it was not a large percentage of his practice.

“How long does she get to go on? Don’t tell me to stop! I don’t give a f*** what you say! You’re questioning his credibility!” a man in the audience exclaimed about Porter.

Planning Board Chair Frank Magaletta admonished the man for yelling out, eventually calming down the room.

After some confusion, Porter said they are seeking a loading zone approval on the southwest corner of 14th Street, which would need county approval as well.

“If we were to say we’re nervous about the queuing … you made it sound like all or nothing,” Commissioner Jim Doyle, also a councilman-at-large, said to Ling, indicating that the issues he raised had relatively simple remedies.

“Would we be in jeopardy of liability?” Doyle asked about a potential lawsuit.

“If the conditions are met, the board is obligated to approve. This is not really a discretionary decision on the part of the board. Admittedly we have some interesting conditions here. But generally speaking, yes. The board is duty bound to approve,” Planning Board Counsel Scott Carlson said.

Ownership Questions

Story management consultant Aaron Epstein explained their agreement with Little Man Parking before getting interrupted by Cabalar, who alleged in a letter that Story wasn’t the real applicant.

“Mr. Epstein is not involved in Story Dispensary. It really goes to the transparency concern. The real applicant before the planning board is the landlord. The owner of the property … does have some investment in this property. I think that’s inconsistent with the representation. Why not show the lease to the board?” Cabalar asked.

He also said Story has a woman, Samantha Silva, as the majority owner to classify them as a woman/majority owner.

“I would object in the entirety because it is wholly irrelevant to the board’s proceedings,” Porter replied.

“You’re the applicant as far as I’m concerned. Oftentimes, a lease is not submitted to us because it’s not proprietary,” Magaletta said.

“Mr. Cabalar is saying there’s testimony that was inaccurate or untruthful,” Doyle noted.

Carlson asserted that the proper applicant was before the board in their book, and if misrepresentation occurred somewhere along the way, “a judge will figure it out.”

Organized Opposition to Story Dispensary Fails

Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher took the initiative to pass around the sign-up sheet so dissenters could make their voices heard.

“There was no attempt by this applicant to introduce themselves to the neighborhood,” former Hudson Tavern owner Thomas Brennan said during the public comment period.

Story Dispensary would be in a former tavern. The opposition tried to question the definition of “tavern.” They claimed the former tavern was quiet and not like a popular bar, which is what a tavern is.

“I am not against permitted cannabis dispensaries from operating in Hoboken. My concern is all about location.”

Shady Owners

Francis Dixon was critical of Epstein. He said that building owners Drew Nussbaum and Jaclyn Fulop would make $1 million on the sale of Story should the application be approved.

“Jaclyn Fulop is [Jersey City Mayor] Steve Fulop’s wife. This is kind of touchy … Mr. Epstein has been speaking in bad faith throughout this process. This is outrageous,” he claimed.

The crowd clapped after every objector finished speaking against the Hoboken cannabis dispensary propsoal.

Integrating dispensaries into our city needs to be done responsibly. Story stands in stark contrast to other owners who have honestly engaged with the community,” Leslie Bradley said. She added the owners of Story Dispensary have not testified.

“When we got into this, I don’t think any of us knew what we would get about it. This is new for everyone. We’re trying to fit this into space, and it doesn’t really fit,” Fisher said.

“The relief sought from this board is minor and … should be granted,” Story attorney Lauren Tardanico argued.

Carlson said there were conditions of no onsite consumption, a door silencer being installed, the applicant will get a loading zone, they will provide the board with their required parking arrangement, and a limit on capacity.

“We would use the basement for ancillary storage only. We would eliminate any use of the basement,” Porter replied.

Doyle acknowledged the unrest from some neighbors but said most of their concerns really weren’t for the planning board to remedy.

“The public’s comments … there are some things we really can’t do anything about. I think the queuing issue, it doesn’t really add up. Fewer will be outside, but they will be packed in like cattle. Do we usually dictate the interior?” he asked.

Lawsuits Likely

“There will be a lawsuit no matter what we decide. It’s important to a lot of people, and I appreciate that. Whether or not the site is appropriate has to do with the ordinance. The applicant has satisfied the requirements,” Magaletta stated.

“The applicant would be willing to work with the zoning officer on queuing,” Porter said.

“The comments on ethics issues … are really not for us. That doesn’t mean we don’t care, but we have a lane,” Doyle said.

Carlson asked if Story would agree to appear before the board with an update within six months of opening, to which she agreed.

The board unanimously approved (8-0) a resolution with 14 conditions at 1:12 a.m.

Story Dispensary still needs a city resolution to open.

Jersey Joints Dispensary Resolution Approved as JJ

The Jersey Joint adult-use cannabis dispensary was approved to operate in Hoboken by the City Council. While women and minority-owned, they have negligible ties to New Jersey as they own a dispensary in Massachusetts.

“You didn’t like the name, and here they are. Maybe you can stop it. I would appreciate that one, and I’m sure the residents would too,” Manny Rivera said regarding their Hoboken Cannabis Review Board meeting in May.

The proposal was approved by the Hoboken Planning Board in July.

“They’re just not having their name on the signage,” 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino said.

Name Change

“The signage is JJ,” noted 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.

“You mean the legal change?” Doyle asked.

“The ask of the board was for it to not be advertised as Jersey Joint. We can’t require them to change their corporate name,” Council President Michael Russo said.

Fisher is a strong opponent of Story Dispensary and Blue Violets, which is getting sued by Elizabeth Utrecho, who spoke against Story. However, Fisher liked JJ.

“I just want to take a minute to support this. We thought they did a very good job. It’s a management team that seems to have a great experience. It’s a good plan,” she said.

Fisher added she thought their location at 1427 Grand St was good.

“We think this is a good partner in the city. I just feel good about the application. I know the owner is here, and they did a great job,” she explained.

5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen also spoke in favor of JJ.

“I spoke with the owners and the lawyers for this application. I thought they had a good plan. They were thoughtful with respect to their design. It seemed like a well-thought-out application. I looked at the store they run in Massachusetts. It seemed like a good application for the neighborhood,” he said.

The resolution passed 8-1, with Sixth Ward Councilwoman Jenn Giattino voting no.

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