Township Committee discusses new schedule, cannabis, and police body cameras

Hopewell Township Municipal Building (photo: M. Galioto)

At its regular meeting on Monday, July 19, the Hopewell Township Committee discussed a new in-person hybrid schedule for future meetings, continued discussions of cannabis operations within the Township, and passed a resolution to fund police body cameras.

In June of 2021, Governor Murphy ended the public COVID-19 health emergency due to the amount of vaccinations received in the State. This allowed indoor activities to resume and removed mandatory mask mandates for vaccinated people. Subsequently, the Township Committee started planning for an in-person hybrid schedule for Committee meetings to begin in September.

Deputy Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning explained that the hybrid schedule would keep one meeting per month online and move the other meeting to in person. “I think we’ve had great participation via zoom,” Peters-Manning said. “I know it feels like things are going back to normal, but the pandemic is not quite over. We still have members of our community who are immunocompromised or, for whatever reason, can’t leave their homes.”

Though New Jersey has ended the public health emergency, the State is still in an active “State of Emergency,” Committee attorney, Steve Goodell, explained. He added that they would have to wait until that State of Emergency is lifted to return to in-person meetings fully. “My opinion is that even then, we can continue with virtual meetings, as long as we have comprehensive rules in place for ourselves…we can have one meeting virtually [and] the other meeting in person,” Goodell said.

Committee member Micheal Ruger explained in an email after the meeting: “While we do not keep statistics of every meeting before we moved to Zoom, it was not unusual for us to have five or six people in the audience at an in-person meeting. At the last two meetings, we had more than a dozen. Last year, we had one meeting with over 100 participants.” Continuing talks about the schedule of the meetings will continue as September gets closer.

The Committee also spent a good part of the meeting introducing a new cannabis ordinance that would allow for the manufacturer and cultivation of cannabis. The previous reporting on this topic can be found at this link.

The ordinance is separated into three separate sections: a licensing section, a land-use section, and a taxation session section. This ordinance will ban all other licenses, including wholesale, distribution, retail, and delivery service. The ordinance also limits the number of cultivation and manufacturing licenses within Hopewell township. Scott Micco, a Township attorney, explained that at the moment, only one license per category could be present in the Township. “It explains that there will only be one cannabis business [per license permitted] in the Township, but if it so happens that one single entity holds a cultivation and manufacturing license, that would also be permitted,” Micco said.

The ordinance also covers the water usage by large greenhouses, limiting pollen and therefore cross-contamination created by cannabis, and safety requirements that disallow signage labeling a greenhouse as a cannabis cultivator.

The Township will tax the cultivators two percent per sale. Discussions about the future of cannabis will continue at the next meeting. See this link for the Planning Board’s review of the resolution.

The Committee passed a resolution to participate in the SFY21 Body-Worn Camera Grate created by The State of New Jersey Department of law and public safety. The resolution reads, “Whereas the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety…provides grants to municipal governments for assistance in the acquisition of body-worn cameras and expenditures.”

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