The Jersey City Planning Board approved the Woman and Indian-owned Blossom Dispensary LLC as the city’s first adult-use cannabis dispensary.
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“This is the very first class 5 cannabis licensee presented before the Planning Board. The site conditions are a little funky,” said Stephen Joseph, Blossom’s attorney in the matter.
Architect Ron Elkins added that it’s a one-story building that will see its potential maximized.
“It is basically one large room being used as a tile showroom,” he said, noting that the existing structure needs to be torn down because it encroaches on neighboring property.
“We are prepared to tear down the offending part of the building,” added Elkins, who continued t that the building is only 2,500 square feet, which means it will be a micro cannabis dispensary.
“Customers will arrive. Their IDs will be processed and checked. They will be waiting in the waiting area until the retail area is cleared. They will be electronically buzzed into the space,” Joseph explained, also noting that patrons will leave through a secure turn style.
“Virtually every door … will be electronically locked with a key fob or biometric scanner,” he added.
Cannabis Dispensary Operations
Joseph further stated that while the building is not currently handicap accessible, they plan on changing that. They will also work to minimize the smell to not offend neighbors.
“There will obviously be no consumption of cannabis. I do realize there are concerns about odor spreading,” he acknowledged.
He also noted they have plumbing issues they are working to solve since the building currently uses a septic tank. They are talking to the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA) and the NJ Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to resolve the issues. Since Tonnelle Avenue is a state highway, the NJDOT has jurisdiction over the road.
“Neither the MUA nor the applicant wants to continue with the tank system: We’d rather have a connection to a public sewer,” engineer Mark Chisvette said.
He noted they would have to cut across another property to connect to the public sewer system.
“That’s almost like a river flowing there. What is going to happen there when this building is erected?,” Planning Board Commissioner Vidya Gangadin asked.
Chisvette noted they are working to reduce runoff by creating rain guards. Since the sidewalk in front is not large, the applicant did not want to plant the required four trees.
“They have additional restrictions placed on them. If you do not meet all of those uses, this board does not have jurisdiction,” Board Attorney Santo Alampi asserted.
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“I was born and raised in Jersey City. Jersey City is my home. As the vice president of a Jersey City non-profit as well as a prior federal law enforcement official, I can use my experience to build an honest, safe, and reputable establishment,” said Blossom Dispensary Co-Owner Bina Bhatt.
Her sister and business partner Sapna explained she has been a pharmacist for 19 years and enjoys educating people about healthcare.
“The portal just opened up at the state last week, correct?” Commissioner Steve Lipski asked.
“Correct. There is a separate attorney handling that,” Joseph said.
“Doesn’t it have to go before the city council?” Lipski asked.
“I’m not handling that part of the application,” Joseph replied.
“We have another meeting specifically for cannabis. How is this equitable to the other applicants who are applying?” Lipski inquired.
Jersey City Supervising Planner Matt Ward explained cannabis license applications have been able to submit their plans to the city since October.
Blossom Dispensary First
Blossom Dispensary was the first to do so, having submitted their application in December. The list of applicants at next week’s special meeting only submitted applications in the last two to three weeks.
“This applicant was working diligently with city planning. It is not a question of equity,” he added.
“This board is obviously only dealing with the zoning aspect. I don’t know what’s gonna happen there. Trenton is a funny place, I’m told,” Alampi quipped.
Ward also noted that the cannabis dispensary would be at least 200 feet from a school, with Joseph noting that would follow all local standards on trash disposal and recycling.
“I think the applicant is going to look to move as quickly as they can. Time is of the essence. First to the table gets the bite at the apple, that’s the general thought. The state seems to be ready to accept and process licenses,” Alampi added.
“I thought only five licenses were going to be allowed by the city. We’re treading new waters. The motto of Jersey City is let Jersey prosper. We want to do everything possible to nurture that. I think this is an ideal location. I think it’s an exciting proposition,” explained Lipski.
Commissioners Vijaya Desai and Joyce Watterman, the latter who is also the council president, wished them luck prior to the vote.
Acting Planning Board Chair Dr. Orlando Gonzalez abstained while everyone else voted yes for a 6-0 (1) passage.
Jersey City is one of the most receptive towns in New Jersey to cannabis, having passed an expansive ordinance that allows cannabis lounges last year.