TINTON FALLS – With an application package for potential cannabis business operators still unavailable in Tinton Falls, the delay has been met with a response from a New Jersey cannabis entrepreneur.
A written comment from cannabis businesswoman Beth Stavola to Tinton Falls officials was read aloud during the Borough Council’s July 12 meeting.
In December, council members adopted an ordinance that established the regulations to be followed by individuals and/or entities that are 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 due to a conflict.
Mayor Vito Perillo, who is not a voting member of the council, has voiced his objection to allowing cannabis businesses to operate in Tinton Falls.
In her written comment, Stavola praised the council for adopting the ordinance, but questioned why the application package remains unavailable seven months later. She said cannabis businesses would provide financial benefits to the borough.
“I have listened to many of the council meetings where there are not simple funds available for the girls softball field or well-needed infrastructure improvements,” Stavola wrote. “The 2% cannabis tax would be incredibly beneficial for so many of the things that residents of Tinton Falls want and deserve.”
Manginelli, who took responsibility for the delay when the issue was raised in June, again attributed the delay to himself. He once again cited pending litigation regarding a cannabis application that was denied in another municipality as a factor for the delay in Tinton Falls.
“I want to see how the litigation is adjudicated before we make a move. Let’s see what the litigation reveals and then we will revisit the issue,” the councilman said.
Manginelli was critical of the process regarding cannabis applications in the state. He said the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission should be the first entity to review applications.
“I have no problem in moving this cannabis (application) forward. I just don’t want to encumber the town with a lot of vetting that is being done by an agency that approves or disapproves licenses,” he said.
Buckley said the borough’s application package will include a hold harmless clause to help prevent legal action against the municipality. The information that will be presented to potential business operators is expected to acknowledge that Tinton Falls may only issue a limited number of cannabis business licenses.
However, Buckley also said the borough may face liability issues for not releasing the application package, as certain cannabis business operators may be expecting to apply for a license in Tinton Falls.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s the right thing to just not do anything at the moment,” the council president said. “I would ask (officials) to consider finalizing the application and setting up a process.”
Buckley suggested using a request for proposal process for cannabis business applications, similar to the process in Ocean Township, which would establish a 30-day period for applications to be received.
Clay, who was critical of the application package not being available in June, once again criticized its unavailability.
“We sit up here and listen to things we could potentially do or that could be done and a lot of them come back to money and questions about finance. (There is) the softball field that was discussed or a library project that is holding for funds.
“When you talk about the potential for income for the town and when we talk about being servants to the community who value our community members’ tax dollars and the services those dollars provide, I think we are really at fault not moving forward. That is really in a very sad state of affairs,” Clay said.