Hopewell Township ordinance keeps cannabis retail applications before Planning Board

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The Hopewell Township Committee has limited conditional use standards for cannabis retailers through an adoption of a new ordinance.

The ordinance, which was first introduced on Nov. 14 and adopted on Dec. 19, moves multiple conditional use requirements to development standards for cannabis retailers, which will help keep the applicants before the Planning Board.

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“The original cannabis retail ordinance was problematic because it had a lot of conditions in the conditional use standards,” said Jim Hutzelmann, township engineer and director of community development.

He added that many of those standards were bulk standards and design standards.

Odor control and traffic are two of several conditional requirements that are becoming standards.

If the conditional requirements remained as conditional uses instead of standards, the applicant would have to go before the Zoning Board for a use variance, according to members of the Township Committee.

“If an applicant could not meet any of those [standards] or demonstrate that they met those [standards] they would be pushed out of the conditional use and would be required to get a use variance from the Zoning Board,” Hutzelmann said. “The intent was always to have these types of applicants heard by the Planning Board.”

Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning, Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger, Committeeman David Chait, Committeewoman Uma Purandare, and Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski voted “yes” to adopt the ordinance at the December Township Committee meeting.

“We really did not take anything out or really add anything. It is a lot of reorganization. Putting the standards in appropriate places,” Hutzelmann said.

The conditional uses for retailers that remain include what commercial zones they are allowed to be in, the holding of a Class 5 license, location is at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, and athletic fields, and cannabis delivery service will only be allowed if it is on the same premises as the cannabis retailer and there is a Class 6 license approved by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

Additionally, prohibitions include onsite consumption or use of cannabis, and the display of cannabis retail prices, drive-through services and drive-through windows or products being visible from the outside of the building.

Under additional development standards, hours of operation, parking requirements, site access, odor control, signage and implementation of security protocols for the cannabis retailer.

Only two cannabis retailers are allowed to operate in Hopewell Township, according to the township.

Also, cannabis delivery services are only permitted by the township if the services are located and owned by a cannabis retail business.

Cannabis retailers and delivery services are able to operate in the neighborhood retail commercial district (C-1), highway business and office district (HBO), shopping center district (SC), shopping center 1 district (SC1), and the industrial and commercial district.

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