The owners of Healthy Thymes came before the Vernon Township Council on Jan. 11 asking for the newly installed council to alter the cannabis retail ordinance that prohibits a cannabis retailer within 2,000 feet of a public park.
Ordinance 21-25, which the council adopted on Sept. 13, 2021, allows for up to three cannabis retailers and medical cannabis dispensaries in the township, but prohibits retailers from opening a dispensary less than 2,000 feet from any school, public park, public ball field, childcare center of the Vernon PAL facility.
Healthy Thymes’ location for the dispensary would be too close to the approved bicycle pump track.
According to Healthy Thymes co-owner Dani Segal, Healthy Thymes, which they have run for 32 years, is 340 feet from the site of the track.
“Our building cannot be seen from the pump track,” Segal said.
The Segals plan to apply for a retail cannabis license and are partnering with the Shryne Group, based in California. Segal said the Shryne group has sent a legal letter of intent to Mayor Howard Burrell to donate $175,000 to the township.
Pro and con
Burrell said he was in favor of amending the ordinance.
“I don’t think we could do ourselves harm by removing the limitation,” Burrell said. “I don’t really see why it should be a problem. If I felt that it was so dangerous, I would say, let’s not have it in the town at all.”
Councilman Brian Lynch said he has seen where the pump track will be and where Healthy Thymes and suggested knocking the distance down to 300 feet.
“You’d have to be like Indiana Jones to go between one to the other,” he said. “and if you don’t get killed by something in the process, it would be amazing.”
The two options the council entertained were either changing the distance or removing the word park from the ordinance. Councilwoman Natalie Buccieri wasn’t in favor of changing the ordinance, while Councilman Mike Furrey didn’t want to remove the word “park.”
Councilman Harry Shortway also is opposed to changing the ordinance.
“I will vote no,” he said. “There’s a reason for enforcement penalties. Federal law is 1,000 feet. State law is 500 feet, and it’s still illegal to sell it to a juvenile and pregnant women. I’m with Natalie on this one.”
Council President Patrick Rizzuto instructed Township Attorney Joshua Zielinski to develop the ordinance with the removal of the distance, even though he said he had a “principal problem” with it.
“I’ll go along with developing the ordinance,” Rizzuto said. “I’m not committing myself to it.”
“I don’t think we could do ourselves harm by removing the limitation. I don’t really see why it should be a problem. If I felt that it was so dangerous, I would say, let’s not have it in the town at all.” Mayor Howard Burrell