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Pennington Council will make decision on retail cannabis resolution of support at next meeting

Jersey Meds Management, LLC, FFD NJ Holdings (Fine Fettle), and Cannique are the three applicants seeking a resolution of support for a retail cannabis establishment in Pennington.

Representatives and management for all three applicants made individual presentations to the Pennington Council at a special council meeting on Feb. 28.

The council will decide on which applicant will be awarded the resolution of support at the governing body’s March 7 meeting at 7 p.m.

According to a New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) memo released in December, the commission stated that municipalities should not issue letters or resolutions of support that exceed the number cannabis businesses allowed to operate in the municipality.

Pennington only allows for one retail cannabis establishment to operate in the borough.

Before the applicants made their presentations, the council decided that only the applicant receiving local support will be charged for the $2,500 application fee.

“The $2,500 application fee would be returned to the unsuccessful applicants, but if the successful applicant is unsuccessful at the state level it is not returned,” Council President Catherine “Kit” Chandler said.

Jersey Meds Management led off the presentations on Feb. 28.

If Jersey Meds were to receive the resolution of support the establishment’s location would be at 21 NJ-31, Suite 1 in Pennington within the Shoppes at Pennington plaza.

“To ensure the security of customers and products we will have a minimum of products on the sales floor for display purposes. We will store products in rooms that can be accessed only by authorized persons,” said Kapil Mansharamani, operations director.

The facility would be 1,460 square feet and would have a check-in area, kiosks, and a terminal.

“The lease is for five years and an option for another five years and conditioned upon CRC approval,” said Dolly Lalchandani of Jersey Meds Management. “Since the application process starts on March 15, if we have a location on hand it gives a better chance for our application with the state.”

Cameras will be placed inside and outside the establishment, a security guard will be tasked patrolling and preventing diversion, and the alarm system will include motion detectors.

“We will implement round-the-clock video surveillance with the cameras, we will also station security during normal business hours and will also welcome borough officers who come periodically to visit and inspect and hold us accountable,” she said.

To prevent youth access, Jersey Meds will provide ongoing training for employees, mandatory ID checks upon entry into the establishment, implement house policies on checking IDs, keep records verifying compliance with training requirements, and work with the community to educate parents and children.

According to the presentation, the facility would limit sale of products that are attractive to young people and restrict marketing and advertising practices that appeal to youth.

FFD NJ Holdings, LLC (Fine Fettle) followed with their presentation about a proposed retail cannabis establishment at 5 Route 31 in Pennington.

Danielle and Jeremy Perlman from Lawrenceville are local partners with Fine Fettle, a national marijuana dispensary company. Danielle Perlman is the majority owner within the New Jersey holdings at 51%.

“We plan to bring 15 to 20 jobs into Pennington,” said Benjamin Zachs, executive at Fine Fettle.

There are four reasons for the location selection.

“Not affecting other businesses negatively, traffic remediation, smell and security,” Zachs said. “Our building was a bank building and since it is a stand-alone building there won’t be any effect on the neighboring businesses. There is dedicated and specific parking above the zone requirements. Being a previous bank building there were already vaults that we can expand for safe storage of product.”

They do not plan to use the drive-thru at the building.

According to the presentation, there is the ability for 360-degree camera coverage, motion detectors within the facility, all the windows would be frosted in the front and sides, two alarm systems would be implemented, there would be a glass break detection and a physical security guard on site.

Fine Fettle’s Pennington building space would 2,500 square feet with a tenant space of an additional 1,200 square feet.

“The ordinance is for 2,500 square feet. The applicant with a preference for a single use property with a standalone entrance is renting the whole space, but would only use 2,500 square feet of it for retail cannabis dispensary,” said Ryan Kennedy, applicant’s land use and real estate attorney.

“If they are blessed with moving forward they would rent out the other space to a not incompatible tenant. One hundred percent – only 2,500 square feet – of this existing building would be used for the cannabis operations.”

The layout includes a waiting area (225 square feet), secure check-in (195 square feet), 750 square feet for dispensary space, 260 square feet for the vault area, 400 square feet for receiving and packaging space.

There would be 40 cameras inside and outside the facility in the Fine Fettle’s 2,500-square-foot portion of the existing building.

According to Kennedy, door to door the facility is over 1,000 feet to the Cambridge School in Pennington at 100 Straube Center Blvd., to the nearest part of Hopewell Valley Central High School it is more than 1,000, and it is 500 feet from the back lot to nearest corner of The Pennington School lot.

The third and final applicant to present on Feb. 28 was Cannique.

“We committed to in our application and intend to have one retail cannabis dispensary in the state in Pennington. This is a local effort,” said David Knowlton, board member of Cannique.

The location for the retail cannabis dispensary would be 144 W. Franklin Ave. in Pennington and is expected to be 2,400 square feet.

“We anticipate the exterior and interior of Cannique to fit beautifully within the Pennington landscape. Our site, we like this zone particularly because of its distance from local schools and especially because it avoids the student crossing at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Route 31,” said Rachel Donington, chair of Cannique. “This zone allows us to build a freestanding structure as we are sensitive to the businesses and shopping centers.”

The facility would have space for a prep room, cashier area with a pass-thru window at the rear, safe, office, counseling room, retail floor area, and entry vestibule and reception desk.

“To talk about Cannique advantages, we are local. We live here, we work here and have been for decades,” said Dr. Jill Farmer, board member at Cannique. “We are not only going to provide high quality product, but we are going to establish a business that is successful for educating the community and helping them feel comfortable about cannabis history.”

When Councilman Charles Marciante asked how long it would take to construct the building. Board members responded by stating that it is a year to be up and running once approvals have been given.

“We think it is worth it to have the right location, and right building from scratch and not have to retrofit a building,” said Rob Moroni, board member of Cannique.

The board did not state specifics at the presentation on how far their dispensary would be from the closest school.

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