Hopewell Township identifies four potential cannabis retail store sites

The Hopewell Township Committee has passed resolutions supporting applications by four retail cannabis stores in the Township, three of them near the traffic circle on Route 31 and another at the vacant Pennytown site.

The Committee approved three of the resolutions at a meeting this week after presentations from the applicants Floro Hopewell and Icon Canna, and an earlier presentation by Jersey Meds Management. The Committee in April approved a resolution supporting an application by Pure Blossom.

The resolutions are the first step in applying to the State for a retail license and indicate that the proposals meet the Township’s general zoning and site requirements.

Hopewell will ultimately allow just two cannabis stores to locate in the Township. The Committee supported all four resolutions and will consider them on a first-come, first-served basis after each is approved by the State. The applications must then be reviewed by the Township Planning Board.

The only opposition came from Committee member Kevin Kuchinski, who raised concerns about the proximity of the sites on the Circle to any future affordable housing that might be built within walking distance of the dispensaries.

“I’m not going to express a preference for a site that’s going to be next to an affordable housing development,” Kuchnski said. “If anyone else wants to go on the record approving it, so be it, but I think it’s unconscionable.”

Jersey Meds Management currently operates a CBD oil shop in a storefront at 2566 Pennington Road, near Wildflowers Inn. The Pure Blossom site is the former Pennington Family Medical office. The Floro proposal is for a site on the south end of the Circle that formerly housed a second-hand equipment dealer.

Kuchinski did support the proposal from Icon Canna, which is targeting a parcel of land in the former Pennytown complex, although the company does not yet own the site. The company has an alternate property in mind, its representatives said, but declined to say where.

Icon’s plan calls for a 3,500 square foot timber-and-beam “barn” style facility. Icon representatives pitched the planned retail outlet as a way to potentially jump-start development of the long-vacant site. As a comparison, its $1.5 million renovation of an abandoned paper mill into a cannabis store in Holyoke, Massachusetts  spurred the opening of a hair salon, bakery, bagel shop and 500-person event space on the same block within 18 months, they said.

Each retail outlet would create 30 to 50 jobs and generate more than $10 to $20 million in revenue, according to estimates cited by the companies and Township Committee members. The Township will take 2% of total revenue from any retail cannabis operation.

As of May 5, the State had received more than 800 applications for retail cannabis sites Statewide, according to the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Retail sales of cannabis for personal use in New Jersey began on a limited basis April 29.

In other business, the Township Committee designated the “Harts Corner Schoolhouse” an historic landmark in the Township. Built at 201 Washington Crossing-Pennington Road in 1906, the one-room brick building was used as a schoolhouse until 1936. It was later used as Hopewell Township Town Hall and offices for the Township’s municipal employees.

The Committee swore in James Rosso as the new Township Chief of Police, who took the oath of office with his wife and son by his side. Rosso has served in the Hopewell Police Department since 2003. “I’m excited to bring some energy and trust and optimism. I want to be a leader you can trust and rely on,” Rosso said in brief remarks to the Committee. “We will be transparent and strive to provide the highest standards of customer service you deserve.”

Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning praised Rosso: “We couldn’t ask for a more forward-thinking and optimistic and community-minded leader.”

The Committee also approved permits for Mercer County 4H to host a fair at Howell Living History Farms July 30-31 and for the Recreation Department to host a Soap Box Derby at South Timberlane Drive on June 25.

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