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RED BANK: SMOKE, BUT NO FIRE ‘COMPANY’

red-bank-china-moon-030623-500x375-4992332The cannabis shop is slated to replace the China Moon restaurant on North Bridge Avenue. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

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A proposed cannabis store with the “terrible” name of “Red Bank Fire Company” will change its moniker before it opens in coming months, a representative said Monday night.

The business won planning board approval to open a marijuana dispensary in a North Bridge Avenue strip mall after promising to quickly end any confusion with the borough’s volunteer fire department.

The business has a license application pending with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Under borough ordinance, it also needed a change-of-use approval of its plan to replace the China Moon restaurant in the North Bridge Avenue strip mall that includes a WaWa, Crate’s Beverages and the Windmill hot dog stand.

Immediately after introducing himself, the applicant’s lawyer, Dante Alfieri, told the board that the name “Red Bank Fire Company,” which appeared on the development permit application, would be scrapped.

“Before we start the meeting, I’d just like to note that our intention was from the beginning was to change our name,” Alfieri said. Instead, the business will be called the Frosted Nug, he said.

Earlier in the day, a post on a local news blog reported without explanation that the Red Bank Fire Company was seeking the approval. The post was illustrated with the fire department logo.

The post “lit up the phones” among volunteer firefighters, one told redbankgreen, and prompted a letter by fire Chief Wayne Hartman requesting that the logo be removed and a correction issued.

Christopher Weidling, a cannabis industry consultant and minority shareholder in the business, told redbankgreen after the meeting that the change would be made to address “confusion with the first responders.”

So who’s idea was it to call the business Red Bank Fire Company in the first place?

“It wasn’t anyone that’s involved with our group,” Weidling said. “We purchased this project from someone who had already named it that. The first thing we said was, ‘that’s a terrible name. We have to change that.'”

According to a filing with the New Jersey Secretary of State, RB Fire Company LLC was created last May and identified Sergio Ribeiro of Long Branch as a member.

No variances were required, and Weidling discussed measures to help address “queuing” of customers outside the store until demand declines, which he said would occur as the state and municipalities grant more dispensary approvals. Right now, there are only 29 shops in New Jersey, he said.

The board granted unanimous approval on several conditions, including “a name change, to something better,” said board Chairman Dan Mancuso. Weidling also agreed to a request by the Shade Tree Committee that more trees be planted along the perimeter of the shopping center.

Weidling said he hopes to open the Frosted Nug in 2023.

Meantime, the borough council, which meets Wednesday night, is caught up in a controversial move to overhaul its 2021 cannabis ordinance. The matter, however, does not appear on the agenda for the meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at borough hall.

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