Hopewell Borough’s Zoning Board greenlights cannabis retail store

Evolve Sky proposes to sell pre-packaged products such as edibles, oils, vape pens, and flowers

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The Hopewell Borough’s Zoning Board granted variance approvals for Evolve Sky LLC to continue with plans for a retail cannabis store despite some voiced frustrations from residents.

Evolve Sky had requested the board grant a D-3 conditional use variance, bulk variances and a waiver of site plan approval to renovate space for an adult use recreational cannabis dispensary at 57 Hamilton Ave. in the Service Zone district of Hopewell Borough during a public hearing on March 6.

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The applicant proposes to convert 3,600 square feet of office space – part of a larger existing one-story building – for the cannabis retail store.

The proposal is impacting the interior of the building as the proposed store is bounded by Somerset Street, Hamilton Avenue, and Lafayette Street.

The entrance to the cannabis retail store is off of Somerset Street.

“Just to the north from Somerset we are proposing a new staircase and new ramp that leads down towards the parking field that we intend to use as our main parking field just to the northeast of the dispensary,” said David Collins, applicant architect from Feltz Collins Architecture, Lincroft.

They are renovating the main entrance into a secure entry area off Somerset Street.

Customers will initially be buzzed into a reception area and then they will be buzzed into the dispensary. There are counters wrapping around the sides of the dispensary.

Renovation work also includes the back of the house/staff area, which will include a breakroom, an office, an (information technology) room, a vault, a pick pack area and a receiving area.

“A regular size sprinter van will park in the parking lot in either off hours or slow hours. They will handcart the product up the ramp into reception and be brought back,” Collins said.

There are four parking fields for the store. Three on site and one is located on Somerset Street on the north side of the building for a total of 168 parking spaces with four handicapped parking spaces.

Evolve Sky plans to use UPS battery backups for the security system and are not proposing the use of a generator. There will be a restricted area for employees and a reception/entrance area for customers.

Evolve Sky proposes to sell pre-packaged products such as edibles, oils, vape pens, and flowers. They plan to schedule hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We don’t expect that we will see a significant amount of traffic coming into the borough to visit this facility,” said James Kyle, applicant’s planner from Kyle + McManus Associates. “This site is off Broad Street, kind of isolated and a little harder to find.”

The applicant plans to have seven employees on-site in two shifts. There will be a morning and afternoon shift.

A resident voiced their concerns about the location of the store and the building condition.

“My question really is this building, and you are not powerless, the resident told the board, as she presented photos to the board and the applicant’s professionals. “You can deny the variance or ask for more specific site planning for this particular location.”

“I don’t know why the applicant is not standing up here with me as to the state of this building. For this applicant to be able to sell ingestible items from a place that has a chemical leak and ongoing remediation and is infested with mold, how are their employees going to feel after eight hours in this building.”

Collins said he didn’t recognize the photos that were presented noting the location is a big building.

“… I can say that when the renovation occurs in our space if there is any mold it will be remediated, we have to as part of our work,” he said. “If there is something that needs to be cleaned it will be cleaned before the sheet rock goes back up.”

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