A late morning fire today in Woodbury Heights NJ, devastated a commercial building which most recently operated as a Nova Bank branch.
The building sits behind the popular Hollywood Café restaurant on Elm Ave, close to the Route 45 intersection.
More recently the building was planned to become a cannabis dispensary, but the Woodbury Heights Zoning Board denied those plans back in March of this year.
Fire Marshalls on the Scene
When I visited the site at 4:00 PM today, it appeared that core firefighting efforts were completed, with just a small tuft of smoke coming out of one area.
Fire personnel including the County Fire Marshall and a State Fire Marshall Investigation Unit were conversing a few yards away from the building, presumably discussing the details of the fire.
To my untrained eye the building appears to be a total loss.
The vertical brick walls are still standing from the one story building, but basically all other aspects of the long abandoned building are completely gone. The roof and all interior aspects are ashes.
Photos I took at the scene (from a distance) show that through the windows closest to me, I can see across the empty interior to the other far brick wall… meaning any sort of interior wall construction and drywall was just completely gone.
Still remaining on the front exterior brick was a small Nova Bank sign listing its operating hours.
According to published reports the Nova Bank shut down back in 2012. So considering that the sign was never removed, it would seem that the building has been abandoned for 11 years.
Bluelight Cannabis – Woodbury Heights
In recent months though the former bank building had seen new activity, as a Pennsylvania firm has plans to convert the building into a dispensary.
42Freeway wrote about the plans for the dispensary back in February of this year, ahead of a scheduled Zoning Board meeting.
For several months crews were on site cleaning out the building, and doing other construction activities.
But as mentioned, back in March of this year they were denied their application to operate the property into a cannabis retail store.
According to a Courier-Post article published just five days ago, the Woodbury Heights Zoning Board rejected the application for the dispensary because it was 45 feet short of the 1000 foot buffer required from a school.
That article goes on to say the dispensary operators had filed a lawsuit on May 12th regarding the Zoning Board’s denial of their application.
The Courier-Post article goes on to say that the business states the actual travel distance is greater than 1,000 feet.
Another key concern is that the Woodbury Heights ordinances only allow for one dispensary in the highway district, and another dispensary operator is looking to convert a different bank location on Route 45 into a dispensary.
That Woodbury Heights meeting was scheduled for last night, although I do not know the outcome of that dispensary application at this time.
Links and Locations
Commercial Building Fire – Former Nova Bank
30 Elm Ave
Woodbury Heights, NJ