NEPTUNE – Township leaders will allow recreational marijuana dispensaries to open within Neptune. But they are still mulling one key question.
Neptune leaders, like their counterparts across the state, are under a time limit to set up their regulations for dispensaries ahead of a statewide Aug. 21 deadline.
New Jersey’s law that legalized recreational marijuana gave all towns until then to decide if they want to ban dispensaries in their town or set up their own regulations. Otherwise the new businesses will be able to operate for five years under state regulations.
Neptune officials already agreed they will allow recreational marijuana businesses to operate in town but want to have their own zoning regulations so they can have more control over where businesses go should the state rules change, Neptune’s Land Use Administrator Bernard Haney said during a Neptune Township Committee meeting on Monday.
“State regulations can change and we would have no say” if the township doesn’t set up its own regulations, he said.
Haney said the township’s staff initially was eyeing Route 66 from roughly Jumping Brook to the Asbury Park city line, already a major retail corridor for the Neptune.
This stretch is already home to a Zen Leaf, a medical marijuana dispensary that opened earlier this year in the building that housed the former Smashburger restaurant.
Haney said the staff proposed keeping the marijuana businesses away from Routes 33 and 35 because the commercial spaces along those road backed up to residential properties.
Neptune officials were eyeing any potential cultivation businesses to operate in the township’s industrial zones, most of which are along Memorial Drive.
Committeeman Keith Cafferty said marijuana dispensaries should be allowed in the same areas where Neptune would allow new liquor stores to open.