WARETOWN – After residents expressed concerns, the Township of Ocean has reversed course on cannabis cultivation in Brookville, rescinding the zoning change and eliminating the associated overlay zone.
“As discussed at previous meetings, this area is not right for this type of business,” Mayor Lydia Dodd said. “This zoning and overlay zone will be removed from the township codebook and it will not be reintroduced.”
The council voted unanimously to rescind the ordinance which placed strict restrictions on businesses within what was to be Cannabis Use Overlay Zone 3.
Bringing in cannabis businesses provide additional tax revenue to help the local economy, but some residents don’t want these kinds of businesses.
Concerned residents who felt they were not properly informed about the proposed zoning change filled a recent Township Council meeting, prompting the governing body to listen and reconsider.
“It’s come to my attention via a text message that the township approved a marijuana growing facility at Wells Mill and Jones Road,” said William Seeley, who lives on Jones Road. “Is that correct?”
Clarifying the original scope of the ordinance, Township Administrator/Clerk Diane B. Ambrosio noted that it solely established the overlay zone and no actual applications for cannabis businesses had been filed.
Seeley, whose property abuts the zone that was originally changed, expressed concerns about potential environmental impacts. He cited existing issues with the current property owner’s maintenance and worried about fertilizer or other harmful chemicals used in cannabis cultivation.
Adding to his frustration, Seeley said he hadn’t received official notification of the public hearing allowing the overlay zone change.
Justin Jones, another Jones Road resident, asked township officials why they considered making the change in the first place if there was no application for a cannabis cultivation business. The overlay zone applied to a sole landowner’s property.
“According to the Pinelands, it has to be in agricultural zone,” Ambrosio explained. “He’s the only one in the agricultural zone out there.”
Other residents who lived in the area noted that they did not feel they were afforded due process as far as an opportunity to speak on the ordinance during a public hearing. Expressing her regrets, Ambrosio acknowledged that she had inadvertently neglected to notify residents of the proposed changes.
Township Attorney Chris Dasti explained to residents at the December meeting the procedure that just came into effect.
“It’s essentially that the ordinance is invalid because it was not properly adopted,” said Dasti. “We’ll either repeal the whole thing or amend it or reintroduce it.”
Notably upon rescinding the ordinance, authorities declined to move forward at all with the establishment of the cultivation overlay zone in that area.