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RED BANK: TWO POT SHOPS UP FOR REVIEW

red-bank-156-west-front-010623-1-500x375-4743563Plug Naturals LLC seeks board approval to create a cannabis store in a house on West Front Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-9108919An effort to tighten Red Bank’s controversial cannabis business zoning law faces a double-barreled challenge Monday night.

That’s when the owners of two proposed pot shops that would be less than 350 feet apart go to the planning board. Both are expected to argue they comply with the 2021 law.

red-bank-9-west-051023-2-500x375-9012223If approved, Canopy Crossroad would operate at 9 West Street, next door to Red Bank Liquors. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The board has already rejected a pending rewrite of the law by a council subcommittee as out of step with the borough’s Master Plan because it would impede, rather than advance, economic development.

Now, with the rewrite effort incomplete, Canopy Crossroad and Plug Naturals are seeking conditional approvals from the board.

• Up first on Monday’s agenda is Canopy Crossroad, continuing a hearing that began May 1 on a plan to open at at 9 West Street, next door to Red Bank Liquors.

The business, owned by Andy Zeitlin and Caryn Cohen of Middletown, holds a conditional license from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Under the borough’s 2021 cannabis zoning law, which is still in effect, Canopy Crossroad also obtained a resolution from the town council attesting that the issuance of a license by the state “would not exceed any municipally-imposed limit.”

The shop needs a variance for parking, with an obligation to provide nine spaces, based on the combined retail square footage of the cannabis shop and the unrelated liquor store. The adjoining parking lot provides seven.

Peter Wersinger, attorney for the nearby Red Bank Corporate Center, at 141 West Front, told the board he planned “extended cross-examination” of Zeitlin when the hearing resumes.

Plug Naturals LLC, owned by Garth Case, Jadis Montego and Rita Fielding, would operate just around the corner from Canopy Crossroad, at 156 West Front Street.

Now a single-family house, the address is just 344 feet away from Canopy Crossroad, according to Google Maps, and directly across the street from Red Bank Corporate Center.

In January, Plug Naturals won an appeal of an administrative decision by Shawna Ebanks, director of the borough’s department of community development. Ebanks had rejected the proposal.

As noted by Plug Naturals attorney John Anderson that night, “a victory for us would not result in any approval. It would just send us on a path to your planning board, where we would have to put on a site plan application, with whatever variances might be required.”

The property is owned by Michael Ghegan.

The board meets at 7 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Here’s the agenda.

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