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Shigh LLC Dispensary to Appear at Washington Township Planning

Shigh LLC Dispensary to Appear at Washington Township Planning
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Shigh LLC is owned by a Washington Township resident who is moving closer to opening a cannabis dispensary in her home town!

Cindy Ortiz is the CEO of Shigh LLC, and earlier this year the State of New Jersey approved their cannabis dispensary license application.

On Tuesday March 7th she and her team will be appearing before the Washington Township Planning Board, looking for a “site plan waiver” for their planned location on the Black Horse Pike.

The property is 5100 Route 42, which is a small shopping center in the Whitman Square side of the roadway. Garfield Ave. is the closest cross street.

The shopping center is approximately 12,000 square feet and the dispensary will be taking 4,800 square feet of the property.

Additionally, the small shopping center has a new owner who has said they will be upgrading the property to make it more attractive.

I stopped at the Township zoning/planning office today to look at the information submitted for planning board review. The information was more broader in scope, focused on how the building sits within the property… targeted at showing they are not changing those exterior site plan elements.

Last year Washington Township passed ordinance 0017-2022, which authorized up to three dispensaries within the Township.

Dispensaries are listed as a conditional use which I believe means they had to appear before an approval board of the Township, but the wording of this meeting is “Site Plan Waiver for a Cannabis Dispensary”

Site plan waivers are typically more about; if you’re not changing any of the core exterior site elements of the property (building size, parking, drainage) and simply opening a new business, the lengthy and expensive full site plan approval process can be waived.

Shigh LLC – Cannabis Dispensary License Awardee

With just one day to go towards the planning board meeting, I have not had a chance to speak with Cindy, but she has a significant amount of information online as she’s moved through the licensing process… Including interviews with Philadelphia based news outlets.

In one of the interviews Cindy said that she had never smoked marijuana for most of her life and it wasn’t until a 2016 medical incident, that she was introduced to the health benefits of marijuana for medical patients.

This inspired her to look into what it would take to become her own business owner, running a legal dispensary.

Right now she is positioned to be one of the few women owned/operated dispensaries in the State of New jersey!

It’s also important to note that she is a small business person. Most of the area dispensaries that are in operation currently, seemed to be part of larger corporations… whereas Miss Ortiz is a local resident and small businessperson who wants to operate her own business, and help people in her own beloved town.

It’s been a five year effort for her. Initially she was expecting to be one of the first licensees approved, but there were challenges in navigating the process for many of the early applicants.

I am not certain if the dispensary’s retail name will be Shigh. (Map Image: Google Maps)

Cindy has a social media presence with a business name of Bloom Collective or Bloom Wellness, which may have been associated with her earlier plans for a location in another town. 

Washington Township Cannabis Ordinance O017-2022  September 2022

As mentioned, Washington Township passed the ordinance legalizing cannabis retail sales in September of 2022.

Initially the Township denied cannabis sales, but that was an intentional temporary decision which many towns took. That action was more about meeting an initial deadline imposed by the State of New Jersey’s cannabis laws.

To explain, with the initial passage of the State law, the State required towns to make a decision on local legalization within 180 days… or the default would’ve been “all cannabis sales are legal”.

Well it turns out that most towns considered 180 days not enough time to review and establish their local ordinances, considering changes were likely needed in master plans, zoning and other ordinances.

So it was very common for towns to initially deny cannabis sales so that they would meet the State imposed deadline, and then they would have the time necessary to further review and determine if they would legalize cannabis sales within the town.

Which got us to the September 2022 approval ordinance in Washington Township.

The ordinance goes on to define zoning related to where cannabis dispensaries could be opened, but also defining rules around hours of operation and other facets.

The key location takeaways are that specific commercial zoning types and redevelopment areas were approved for the dispensaries.

Other aspects of the Washington Township ordinance were that the businesses needed to operate along a county or state roadway.

Additionally, no cannabis establishments shall be within 1000 feet of schools, daycare, childcare centers, public parks and similar uses as measured from property lines.

Also, no cannabis establishments shall be located within 1000 feet of any behavioral care facilities, or residential medical detoxification centers.

And no cannabis establishment shall be located within 5000 feet from another  cannabis establishment.

I did some of my own checks via Google Maps, and from my perspective this location seems to be a good fit.

Other key aspect of the Ordinance is, on site consumption is prohibited. In fact all smoking in a public places are prohibited; which also includes streets, sidewalks, plazas, parks etc.

Lastly, all sales at a retail cannabis facility in Washington Township will collect a 2% local tax, which will be going to the Township.  There are other taxes applied to the sale of cannabis including New Jersey taxes.

Links and Locations

Shigh LLC Dispensary
5100 Route 42
Blackwood NJ, 08012

Planning Board/Zoning Board of Adjustment
March 7, 2023, at 6:00 PM
Municipal Building
523 Egg Harbor Road
Washington Township NJ