The HoneyGrove medical cannabis dispensary planned for Blackwood-Clementon Road in Gloucester Township did NOT get necessary variance approvals last night by the town’s Zoning Board.
We first brought this plan to readers back in July, but the meeting was postponed until last night.
The meeting was a packed house of over 200 people, most of whom I believe where attending for another project on the docket last night, the warehouses at Freeway Golf. I will cover that in a separate article later today or tomorrow morning. The warehouse project session is continued until next month.
HoneyGrove Dispensary – Zoning Variances
HoneyGrove South is a licensed New Jersey medical cannabis dispensary looking to open a location in Gloucester Township.
They identified the former Friendly’s restaurant building on Blackwood-Clementon Road as the location for their Gloucester Township dispensary.
To jump ahead to what everyone wants to know, the Gloucester Township Zoning Board denied the application. HoneyGrove was one “yes” vote short of approval.
The Zoning Board approval was necessary because in the Gloucester Township regulations created for Cannabis dispensaries, there is a defined distance buffer zone from residences and schools… and HoneyGrove would be within the boundaries.
The Cherrywood Academy and Private Preschool is on the other side of Blackwood-Clementon Road from the proposed dispensary just inside the residential neighborhood. That buffer to a school needs to be 1000 feet.
The prepared survey document shows the distance door-to-door from the Academy to the proposed dispensary to be 814 feet.
Similarly there is a buffer requirement of 500 ft for residential homes. Millbridge Apartments are located behind the shopping center where the proposed dispensary is on a pad site.
The survey document shows the distance to Millbridge at over 600 ft. It’s not clear to me why this was called out as something needing approval.
HoneyGrove – Multiple Approval Steps
As a step back, there were multiple steps of approval for HoneyGrove to have gotten this far.
First, Gloucester Township needed to approve cannabis dispensaries within the town. Board member Bucceroni reminded meeting attendees that the residents themselves voted overwhelmingly to support dispensaries in town. I believe it was close to 75% in town supporting dispensaries.
Second, to be awarded a license HoneyGrove needed a letter of support from the township to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, clearly indicating the Township was in agreement on not only the Company operating in town, but also the exact location.
On December 27, 2021 Gloucester Township Mayor Dave Mayer sent that letter stating the Township was supporting the dispensary at the former Friendly’s location.
The third approval was that the location plans and upgrades were reviewed by the Planning Board, which determined the usage was within township Planning guidelines. They would not need a Planning Board meeting.
The Zoning Board presentation and approval was the fourth step, and the buffer appeared to be the last final hurdle.
HoneyGrove’s stated the intent of a buffer requirement was met in their plans in that the Cherrywood Academy is separated by the busy Blackwood Clementon Road, and the Millbridge Apartments had additional buffer via the existing large shopping center at the back of the commercial property.
The presentation clarified that HoneyGrove would’ve been medical only and not public “adult use”. They only had a medical license.
But several questions and comments were targeted at the possibility the license could be converted to a retail use at a later date.
A board member clearly and directly asked for clarification of the adult-use point to which HoneyGrove held firm “we are only planning on medical use at this time”
It was then clarified that if the did move to adult-use sales, they would need to present again at the Zoning Board.
HoneyGrove also stated the property would have a full interior and exterior remodel, as well as an industry recognized state of the art security system.
Several members of the public and area businesses spoke against the approval.
Millbridge Apartment Executives stated they were not in support of the dispensary, citing the number of families and children that live in their large complex.
They also noted that the dispensary location was positioned at their entrance to the apartments, which caused them concern.
The owner of Cherrywood Academy Preschool also spoke against the dispensary with similar concerns related to the closeness of the two buildings, to their children within the preschool.
Cherrywood Academy brought their own attorney to the meeting, who also spent some time asking questions of the HoneyGrove team.
Several residents from the Millbridge apartments spoke against the dispensary. Concerns being about families and children.
One aspect of concern was, why would the board approve the something outside of the zoning guidelines when the rules were just recently created?
A board member explained that it’s part of the process “If everything always met the zoning rules, we wouldn’t need a board” (paraphrased)
Another resident cited additional traffic concerns at the busy intersection, and factored in the new Wawa would not only increase traffic but also increase the number of people crossing the busy Blackwood Clementon Road between the two businesses.
At the time of voting, Board member Bucceroni shared that he spoke to representatives in Bellmawr regarding The Curaleaf dispensary there and said they had no problems, and no additional crime. He called out the successful dispensaries in Deptford and Williamstown which operate without incident… and he did not have a problem with the dispensary at Friendly’s.
For the vote, two of the Board members voted no which which made it one vote short of the count needed to pass. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture the vote details (names).
The board members stated similar concerns related to the proximity to homes and schools.
The HoneyGrove team were clearly disappointed in the outcome but left quietly. I am not aware at this time of any next steps.
Links and Location
HoneyGrove Medical Dispensary (Not approved)
1337 Blackwood Clementon Rd
Clementon, NJ 08021
Website (No content)