Lakehurst Grows Cannabis Zone

A former Burger King in Lakehurst may be serving up an entirely different type of product in the not-so-distant future. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  LAKEHURST – Cannabis retail and cultivation in the borough is growing and during recent council meetings, an ordinance pertaining to that expansion has been the subject of dialogue between industry representatives and the governing body.

  During one public comment period, Alan Trzuskoski, founder of Cannabiz Incubator, said he was building a cannabis campus for cultivation and manufacturing. He was helping businesses to grow and to get licenses.

  He said he also works with an investment group that helps provide funding for such businesses. “I’m working with two of your candidates and I’m here on their behalf and to also see if there wasn’t an opportunity to carve out additional space for another business of this type.”

  “We are having a first reading to allow a second business in the B-2 Zone which Route 70 has. We have an eastern and western corridor. It has to go to the land use board and once they give approval of it, then the second reading will be done and open to the public here,” Mayor Harry Robbins responded.

  “We are trying to move forward, let me put it that way,” the mayor added. A few weeks later the governing body passed that revised ordinance allowing for three cannabis businesses to operate within the community.

  The state allows several licenses for the cannabis industry: class I, a cultivation license; class II, a manufacturer license; class III, a cannabis wholesaler license; class IV, a distributor license; class V, a retailer license; and class VI, a delivery license.

  “A Class V Cannabis retail site shall not be permitted in the light industrial zone,” according to the ordinance. Three retail licenses will be permitted in Lakehurst, one in the B1 zone and two in the B2 zone.

  The ordinance also notes that state authorized signage will also be permitted for the promotion of the cannabis businesses and their legal products. Signage must comply with the borough’s ordinance and state laws governing signage standards for licensed marijuana businesses.

  Also present was Janice Johnson, a representative of Jersey Shore Extracts, who is hoping to open her operation in the borough. Her firm is one of the two that Trzuskoski was representing.

  “In California, one of the rules of thumb is…that for every 10,000 residents one dispensary should be aligned for that geographic location. Right now, you have a huge opportunity and you are one of the very few communities in the county that are legalizing at this point and there are over 600,000 residents in Ocean County,” Trzuskoski added.

  “With that math it would support 60 dispensaries across the county,” Trzuskoski said. “A big part of the business plan is deliveries. I know you have opted out of delivery but a lot of companies have some options to do deliveries. I know you are taking 2% from the taxes but (deliveries) would be from any city across the state. You’d get the 2% because your retail location is based in your city.

  “I think it is a huge opportunity for you guys across Ocean County and there will be other towns when they see the opportunity and money you will be bringing in and the things you can do with that money. Communities opt out initially and they opt in when they see the opportunities and jobs they are creating and revenue they receive,” Trzuskoski added.

  “If you do support them, you are really investing in home grown businesses that are banding together as networks to build an independent network of businesses as opposed to a state operator who doesn’t really care about the locals. These guys do care about the locals. We will have a community engagement plan,” she said.

  Mayor Harry Robbins said that the borough’s ordinances did allow for delivery. According to the revised ordinance “a Class VI Delivery licenses shall be permitted in the borough on the condition that the entity also possesses a Class V retailer license.”

Other Borough Business

  Council President Steven Oglesby reported a meeting with borough employees was held concerning an explanation of the state’s change in insurance rates. “I think it was beneficial to help explain what the changes were and why some of them would see a negative impact on their income. I am hoping it was helpful and we spoke to them about what their concerns were. While they weren’t thrilled with the situation, they were thankful for the explanation.”

  “We are looking at the end of the year for the purchase of some pagers to replace those that are outdated,” Councilman Robert McCarthy reported.

  Councilwoman Bernadette Dugan said a new sewer line had been installed recently and a new radiator was installed on a trash truck. “Winter servicing on all trucks will be completed shortly and the salt supply is being ordered and the restrooms at Horicon Lake were closed after Veterans Day.”

  The governing body also moved to hire Marlena McCann as a crossing guard and Melissa Morelli was reappointed as a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class I police officer. The resignation of Police Officer Gavin M. Cecchini was also accepted.

  The mayor and council also introduced an ordinance to bond for water treatment plant upgrades appropriating $805,000 for the issuance of bonds. They also authorized a change order for 2021 Community Development Block Grant on Orange Street.

  Mayor Robbins also noted that the community this year’s citizen of the year would be announced during the December council meeting and the person chosen would be asked to light up the borough’s Christmas tree during the annual Christmas Tree lighting at 7 p.m. on December 9 in front of the borough’s community center on Center Street.