The last-minute discovery of a major issue regarding the notices sent to residents near a proposed medical marijuana dispensary and grow house in Brick led to another postponement of the application for Jersey Shore Therapeutic Health Care (JSTHC) to build its facility.
Members of the township’s zoning board as well as two attorneys – one representing the neighbors and one now representing the VFW post next to the proposed dispensary – were assembled at 7 p.m. for the meeting, but a visibly displeased Board President Harvey Langer announced that testimony would not go forward. He went on to read a letter the board (and objecting attorneys) received from John Paul Doyle, JSTHC’s attorney, at 4:50 p.m. saying they would not be attending the meeting.
Langer said an issue was discovered with the required legal notices that need to be sent out to all residents within 200-feet of the proposed facility at 385 Adamston Road. After the meeting, Robert C. Shea, attorney for the VFW post, said JSTHC sent out notices about the meeting to residents on Jan. 7 instead of at least 10 days prior, as required by the state, failed to use certified mail and missed two of the 14 property owners.
“The board does not have jurisdiction to hear this application this evening,” said Langer, adding that JSTHC will now have to send out a new round of notices once a new date can be decided upon. But that won’t be easy because the board must secure a larger room, choose a date when all the attorneys and professionals involved are available and cannot conflict with planning board meetings since the township planner must be in attendance.
“We want this to proceed and we want it to be over as soon as possible,” said Langer. “We don’t want people to keep coming out here on Wednesday night only to be told, ‘we’re not hearing it tonight.’”
After the announcement about the postponement was made, Edward Liston, the attorney representing a number of residential property owners near the proposed facility, said his office looked back on the notices sent out for the October meeting when testimony was first heard on the application and found similar issues with the notices that had been sent out for that hearing. Shea said the board must look into the matter.
“It is our position that whatever took place at the October meeting is void at this time because of the fact that there was no jurisdiction to even hear that application,” said Shea.
When asked by Langer if he was arguing that testimony should start again from the beginning after a new round of notices, Shea answered in the affirmative.
The biggest threat to the application now, however, is not necessarily the October notices, but Shea’s questioning as to whether the board has any jurisdiction – at all – to hear the application since JSTHC was not approved to operate a medical marijuana dispensary or production facility last month when the state Department of Health awarded six new licenses across New Jersey.
Shea said he contacted the Department of Health on Wednesday afternoon and was told by a representative that there were no current plans to authorize additional dispensaries, known as Alternative Treatment Centers, or ATCs.
“There is an issue as to whether they even have a right to come to this board to ask to do something that needs a license that doesn’t exist,” said Shea. “It’s like proposing a casino without a casino license.”
Anne Davis, the owner of the proposed facility, has previously said she expects new rounds of licenses to be issued and is confident her company will receive one. Despite having the second highest number of medical marijuana patients in the state, there is no ATC located in Ocean County, and none within an hour of Brick Township.
Reached after the meeting, she said via text message that she still planned to move forward.
“Although we did not proceed with the meeting tonight, we look forward to the future,” said Davis. “Excited to see this project through and being of tremendous service to the local and growing community of medical marijuana patients.”