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Oakland ordinance would allow for marijuana growing businesses but not retail sales

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Three ordinances proposing non-retail cannabis operations in the borough will be the subject of public hearings and possible votes Monday.

No cannabis business has applied to the borough, said Borough Administrator Richard Kunze. The ordinances are intended to define what businesses will be allowed in the future, where they can be and how they will be regulated.

The changes proposed in the ordinance would affect several of the borough's industrial zones. It would also create a new industrial zone to replace a corporate office and industrial park zone. These properties are mostly in the southwest part of the borough.

Zones designated I-1, I-2 and I-4 would allow cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, wholesaling, distribution and delivery service. Only the new I-4 zone would require a minimum 10-acre lot size for such businesses.
 
Oakland is proposing three ordinances Dec. 20 that would allow up to five types of non-retail cannabis businesses to operate in industrial areas in the southwest part of the borough.

In I-P and I-3 zones, only cannabis wholesaling and distribution would be allowed.

Retail sales are not mentioned for any zone.

Another ordinance would regulate the 2% transfer tax to be derived from cannabis operations. A third ordinance outlines licensing requirements for cannabis businesses operating in the borough.

The state set a deadline of Aug. 21 for municipalities to reinstate cannabis bans nullified when Gov. Phil Murphy signed a series of bills legalizing marijuana industries in February.

The Borough Council voted June 9 to ban all six classes of cannabis-related operations.

Mayor Linda Schwager vetoed the vote, arguing that a committee should first evaluate the tax benefits to be derived from those operations. However, the council overrode her veto June 23, citing a state law placing a five-year hiatus on any ban coming after the Aug. 21 deadline.

The law means towns that did not enact a ban by August cannot do so until 2026. But towns that adopted bans can loosen restrictions at any time.

Schwager said Tuesday that she formed a committee of council members and interested residents after her veto was overturned who "met for months" to discuss cannabis options for the borough.

"We did our research, dissected the ordinances and came to the conclusion to make recommendations to the council," Schwager said. "I am very thankful to the committee."

Many other New Jersey municipalities passed bans but have subsequently debated what operations each might allow, particularly with an eye toward the 2% transfer tax benefits.

For example, Mahwah banned all marijuana operations in June 2018, but it is now weighing the rezoning of a Route 17 gas station property to allow retail sales.

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