Matawan council takes another step toward permitting cannabis businesses

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MATAWAN – The members of the Matawan Borough Council have adopted an ordinance that establishes an application procedure and licensing fees for cannabis related businesses.

During a meeting on June 9, council members voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.

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Borough Administrator Scott Carew explained that in New Jersey, an individual or an entity that seeks to operate a cannabis business is required to receive an endorsement from the municipality in which it seeks to operate.

If an individual or an entity is endorsed by the municipality, a state commission will then determine if the individual or entity will be granted a cannabis business license.

Matawan’s new application procedure will determine which proposed cannabis businesses are eligible for the borough’s endorsement.

In Matawan, applicants will be scored on a variety of criteria which include owner qualifications and current residency; environmental impact of the business; community contributions; hiring practices; employee benefits; cooperation with law enforcement; security standards; and commitment to diversity.

The adopted ordinance states that “an applicant must provide documented proof they have secured a location and received a minimum of 75 total points on the scoring matrix … Failure to meet these two criteria will render the application as failed.”

Applicants will be required to pay a non-refundable application fee of $2,000. In addition, a $10,000 registration fee is required. If an application is denied, the $10,000 registration fee will be refunded.

If an applicant is approved for a cannabis license in Matawan, a yearly renewal fee of $2,500 will be required by the borough.

Carew said the adoption of the ordinance will allow borough officials to objectively determine which businesses qualify for a municipal endorsement.

The number of potential endorsements that may be provided has not been limited by the governing body. However, Carew said municipal officials will not overcrowd Matawan with cannabis businesses.

He said the potential locations for the businesses will be confined to Matawan’s Highway Improvement District and Railroad Improvement District.

Because of the limited number of properties available in those areas, “We do not anticipate providing too many endorsements,” Carew said.

Borough Council President Brian Livesey further explained that the ordinance is a community safeguard that will prevent unqualified businesses from operating in the municipality.

He said, “This ordinance puts safeguards into place to ensure that well-run, professional establishments come to town. For example, (the ordinance requires) the submission of detailed security and parking plans.

“In broader terms, this ordinance describes and codifies the process for potential businesses to receive a resolution of endorsement from the council. The endorsement is something they need in order to obtain their license from the state.

“This ordinance became necessary once the council allowed retail cannabis last year. Working collaboratively with the council, our staff and professionals worked very hard to come up with a process that protects the interests of Matawan,” Livesey said.

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