TINTON FALLS – Six months after municipal officials voted to permit cannabis businesses to operate in Tinton Falls, the application package a potential business operator will be required to complete remains unavailable.
The status of Tinton Falls’ application package for cannabis businesses was raised during the Borough Council’s June 14 meeting.
In December, council members adopted an ordinance that established regulations to be followed by individuals and/or entities seeking local approval to obtain a cannabis business license.
The ordinance received affirmative votes from Borough Council President Tracy Buckley and council members Risa Clay, John Manginelli and Brock Siebert (who is no longer on the governing body). Councilman Michael Nesci abstained on the vote.
Mayor Vito Perillo, who is not a voting member of the council, has voiced objection to allowing cannabis businesses to operate in the borough.
During the meeting, after a resident of Sea Bright asked about the application package, Borough Attorney Kevin Starkey said the application package has not yet been made available to potential business operators.
Starkey said borough officials are still working on standards to be in place before cannabis business applications are received to ensure the applications are properly processed and reviewed.
He said officials do not have a timeframe for when the application package will be available, although it was noted a pending court case in Monmouth County may influence the application standards.
One resident was critical of the delay in providing the application package and noted that more than 7,000 voters in Tinton Falls voted to legalize cannabis when the question of legalization was on the ballot during the 2020 election.
“It appears the will of those 7,000 people is not being exercised properly,” the resident said. “I know you want to do everything right, but the council went through a lot of trouble to try and get things worked out in advance. There were guidelines given in those ordinances. Other towns in this state are making (business) licenses available and I don’t understand the hold-up.”
Clay was critical of the application package not being available and said she believes Perillo directed his staff not to release it.
“If there are questions or concerns about the application, they should be discussed and resolved, but the process has instead been halted entirely,” Clay said. “I believe this is a direct contradiction of the intent of our ordinance and this action is unacceptable.”
Manginelli attributed the application package’s delay to himself, stating, “We did not get clear direction from the (state’s) Cannabis Regulatory Commission. In addition to that, there is litigation in a (municipality) because an application was denied.
“We believe the judge will rule on (that case) in July or August and I did not want to put the municipality in the same position to be subject to liability. I agree there is an ordinance. I believe we will get it done, but I want to do it safely and I want to minimize risk to the municipality,” the councilman said.