The Jersey City Planning Board approved Legacy to Lifted and the Hamm & Chaz cannabis dispensaries despite pending ordinance changes and distance issues.
At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Dr. Vidya Desai questioned why they were moving forward with Jersey City cannabis dispensaries despite pending cannabis ordinance changes.
Planning Board Secretary Cameron Black said the cannabis dispensary owners want to proceed.
“We still have cannabis dispensaries moving forward because they think it would be more timely to go through this process than wait,” he noted.
“The board has to hear applications,” Board attorney Santo Alampi explained. “Until there’s a second reading, they’re not enacted.”
“Is that ordinance in place yet?” Board Chair Christopher Langston asked.
Board attorney Santo Alampi explained the revised cannabis ordinances would likely pass during the next council meeting.
Legacy to Lifted Cannabis Dispensary
The Legacy to Lifted, LLC cannabis dispensary was up first. They would be at 490 West Side Ave. The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) approved them in October.
Owner Chris Broderick, a native of the city, has been concerned about the Jersey City cannabis licensing process changing, which could impede the progress of his small business.
The term “legacy” in their title reflects their roots in the underground or “black” market. “Lifted” is a synonym for getting high.
Their attorney Dante Alfieri said they’d be on the first floor.
“We are not proposing exterior renovations,” he noted.
Alampi noted their distance concerns.
Architect Greg Korn explained their interior layout and site.
“The existing building is retail. It is below a residence. The residential unit has a separate entrance,” he noted.
Langston asked if they were complying with the signage ordinance.
“It’s under 20 sq feet. It complies,” Korn said.
Langston thought he saw a mural on the side of the building.
“Is that being removed?” he asked.
“There is quite a bit of graffiti on the building that will be removed,” Korn noted.
“What kind of lighting will you have in the front and the back?” Desai asked.
Korn said there would be an LED strip light over the sign.
“What about the rear of the property? Langston asked.
“We don’t presently have any lighting specified,” Korn said. “If there isn’t lighting there, we’ll definitely make sure to add it.
“We would want that as a condition of approval,” Langston said.
“We have no objection,” Alfieri said.
Legacy to Lifted Approved in Jersey City
“Are you aware of any cannabis locations in the distance of your applicant’s property?” Langston asked.
“There weren’t any,” Korn said.
“We’ll double-check with Francisco,” Langston said.
“This application is a micro business. There are no existing or concurring applications within 600 feet,” Planner Francisco Espinoza said. “Staff does recommend approval with conditions.”
Alfieri said they agreed with them.
The Jersey City Planning Board approved it 6-0.
Hamm & Chaz Cannabis Dispensary Hearing
Hamm & Chaz, LLC cannabis dispensary at 747 West Side Ave. was next. They sponsored a cannabis crime expungement clinic last year at a Cannademix academic cannabis conference at Hudson County Community College.
The NJ-CRC approved them last October as well.
“Where are you in the process?” Alampi asked.
“We were approved by the cannabis control board. We sought an end around this planning board process with the understanding this is all changing and won’t be necessary next month,” Hamm and Chaz attorney Duncan Delano noted.
He said their application before the Planning Board has been delayed for several months and cost his client money.
“That’s my understanding as well, which may or may not happen,” Alampi said.
“Agreed. We’re mainly concerned about distance,” Langston said.
Architect Shawn Fisher explained their layout.
“This will be a complete gut of the 1st floor. We’re only occupying the 1st floor,” Fisher said. “All the doors will be very secure.
“You mentioned an outside covered storage area. What’s going to be stored there?” Langston asked.
“Janitorial supplies,” Fisher asked.
“Your HVAC plan, I saw venting that goes out through the roof, I believe. Is there any venting in the vault? Is there any odor mitigation?” Langston asked.
Fisher said they’d use carbon filters to address smell.
“Any area within the dispensary would go through the carbon filter before it gets exhausted outdoors, he said.
“There seems to be a couple of different signs,” Langston argued. “What is the overall sign going to be?”
“The rendering does look like it goes beyond what currently exists. That could be an issue,” Review Planner: Francisco Espinoza said.
“Is that size sign allowed?” Langston asked.
Espinoza said the drawing with the measures would be ok.
“That creates a sign deviation. They’d have to come back before this board,” Langston said.
“The signage dimensions are the actual dimensions. The rendering up above depicts the entire canopy. It’s not part of the actual Hamm & Chaz sign,” Fisher said.
“Everything that’s on the face of that awning is part of the sign,” Alampi said.
Fisher said the graffiti is not part of the sign but rather the awning.
“They’re willing to not include the graffiti panels,” Delano said. “We can remove those. We’re not trying to seek a waiver.”
“I don’t want to lay this on the board either. I want to know what the ordinance says,” Langston said.
Espinoza said a ground floor store is permitted a 20 sq ft sign.
Alampi thought the awning could be part of the sign.
“I would love to see a design there. But to me, if it has branding on it, it’s part of the commercial sign,” Langston said.
“We can also move that art inside,” Delano said.
“I’m fine moving forward with that,” Langston said. “I can’t wait to come see it.”
They might also have a problem since the owners’ caricatures depicted on the sign might be seen as mascots appealing to children and against the New Jersey adult use cannabis law CREAMMA.
Cannabis Dispensary Distance Concerns
“I went to the location,” Commissioner David Cruz noted.
He explained that number 18 on the agenda was White Lotus Dispensary which is set to share a wall with them.
“Does the other one get kicked out?” Cruz asked.
“Since they’re concurrent locations, they’re both allowed to be heard,” Langston said. “The last thing I want to see is anyone fighting. But it’s outside this board’s purview.”
During the public comment period, Susanah Karlsson appeared on behalf of the Park North Neighborhood Association. She thanked them for meeting with the community. However, she was not pleased with the distance issue.
“There are side-by-side applicants. If West Side Ave is to become cannabis row… perhaps these vendors could take more seriously the concerns of the community,” Karlsson said.
She said they met with the community but did not follow up.
“There could be a lot more meaningful engagement. Those people are four blocks away from me, Karlsson added. “We don’t want to be exploited. I hope these vendors would voluntarily take it upon themselves to engage with the community. Only one of these applicants is going to prevail.”
“It’s the same look up here,” Langston said regarding the number of dispensaries seeking to open on Central Avenue in the Heights.
Espinoza noted the other was a micro business, meaning they are allowed regardless of others.
“Staff recommends approval with conditions,” he added.
“We are fine with all of them,” Delano said.
The Planning Board approved them 7-0.