Plumstead Introduces Ordinances That Could Make Way For Medical Marijuana
The Township of Plumstead is introducing a pair of ordinances which would create a means for a medical marijuana growing facility to settle in town, provided township residents want it there.
Mayor David Leutwyler introduced a pair of ordinances, one titled Light Industrial Zone LI1 and Conditional Uses (2012-02) and one Repealing Chapter 41 Section 5 Article 02 of the General Ordinance titled Certain Approvals Prohibited Federal Law Compliance, which was originally passed in December. The pair of ordinances address the possibility of medical marijuana being grown in the township, namely repealing a prior ordinance which would not allow the drug to be grown in township because it is prohibited by the federal government. Mayor Leutwyler says that though other townships are growing medical marijuana, he believes it's a "slippery slope.
While he did not vote in favor of the ordinance repealing the prior ordinance prohibiting Federal Law compliance, he did vote for the zoning ordinance. Stating that it would put something in place if a higher court mandate were ever enacted which forced a medical marijuana growing facility in the township.
"We're not sure what's going to happen" says Leutwyler "if for some reason the courts come down and say 'you have to grow here', we're not going to disobey the courts then we need to have our zoning in place. We don't want it next to school's or things like that."
The LI1 Light Industrial Zoning areas are located in the upper western part of the Township, adjacent to Upper Freehold Township.
The zoning ordinance was introduced before the planning board on Tuesday (of which Leutwyler is a member of) to get their opinions on the measures. Leutwyler says that during the introductory session, the Planning Board suggested changing that only two acres are used if a marijuana distribution center is placed there instead of ten. Those changes were made in the ordinance as it was introduced.
If a cultivation center was placed then it would be a ten acre minimum.
Once introduced the zoning ordinance would then go before the Planning Board (of which Leutwyler is a member of) to make sure it is in compliance with the Master Plan.
According Leutwyler no parties from Breakwater ATC, the alternative treatment company that would set up the marijuana farming facilities, have expressed any interest in the town since they were rejected.
"We're trying to plan ahead, if medical marijuana does come here then we're fully prepared and we don't have it next to schools," says Leutwyler.
If the ordinance repealing the Certain Approvals Prohibited Federal Law Compliance gets passed committeeman Jack Trotta says it could a create a situation where further discussion of medical marijuana in the township could be fostered.
"I'm not saying it's going to be build here tomorrow. I'm not even saying I want that to happen tomorrow. I want them to have the opportunity to come here to this town if they so desire, that is the state law."
Breakwater ATC, one of the six company's awarded licenses by the state to set up medical marijuana distribution centers has said that they would not go into any town which they are unwelcome, and have already been told by several towns (including Plumstead as well as neighboring Upper Freehold Township) that they are not welcome in the form of ordinances preventing businesses that violate federal law.
"It's not up to the states or the municipalities to enforce federal laws" says Trotta "Though it's people say it's against federal law it doesn't matter since the state says we can do this."
Both ordinances go to public discussion at the next Committee Meeting on April 4th, Trotta hopes residents come out and make their voices heard, reminding that the passage of these two ordinances doesn't mean a medical marijuana facility would be coming to Plumstead.
"If and when an application is submitted, it has to be brought up on its own merits and we'll see what happens at that point and time."