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Harrison Planning Board's Decision on Cannabis Store Wed. Jan.24, 2024

Jan 24, 2024
701 North Frank E. Rodgers Blvd Mall Harrison, NJ

The Harrison Planning Board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at 5:45 p.m. (Caucus) and 6 pm (Meeting) via Zoom, to revisit the contentious issue of a cannabis retail store application while also reappointing its attorney, planner, and consulting engineering firm. Zoom log-in and call-in information is located at the bottom of this article. The Public can attend the Caucus part of the meeting.

At the heart of the debate is the request to the Harrison Planning Board to waive certain requirements to allow Green Origin Solutions, LLC to open a cannabis retail store in a mini-mall located at 701 North Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. in Harrison. This decision, which is part of the 'old business' on the meeting's agenda, is critical not only for its impact on the local community but also for what it signifies in terms of the board's approach to urban development and community sensitivity. As of the publication of this article, there was an Agenda published on the town’s official website but the proposed Resolution and the prior Meeting Minutes were not available.

In other matters on the Agenda, there is the reappointment of Michael Pichowitz, Esq., as the Harrison Planning Board Attorney for the upcoming year.  Mr. Pichowitz is also the attorney for the Harrison Zoning Board of Adjustment and an administrator in the Harrison Public School system.

In addition, Heyer, Gruel & Associates, and T& M Associates are on the Agenda to renew their contracts.  Heyer, Gruel & Associates is a Community Planning Consultant who also does work for the Harrison Redevelopment Agency. T&M Associates provides consulting, environmental, engineering, and technical services on applications before the Planning Board.  T&M Associates also does work for the Town of Harrison outside of its work for the Harrison Planning Board.

The plan to memorialize the resolution for the cannabis store application is particularly contentious. Green Origins Solutions LLC initially got approval from the Mayor & Council to locate its Cannabis Store in the Redevelopment Zone near the Harrison Path Station.  Green Origins Solutions then requested to move its location to the mini-mall located at 701 North Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. in Harrison on the border of the Town of Kearny.  The Mayor & Council of Kearny opted to outlaw cannabis stores in its jurisdiction. 

The Mayor & Council of Harrison opted to allow cannabis stores in town. The original proposed Redevelopment Zone Cannabis location was not near any school in the Town of Harrison. The North 701 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd location however is near two public schools, the East Newark Public School and the Harrison’s Lincoln School.  While the Harrison Mayor & Council may argue the benefits of such an establishment in terms of additional sales tax revenue for the town, there remains an issue of what impact two Cannabis stores have on the minds of the Town’s youth regarding the use of Cannabis which has particularly devastating effects on teenager’s brains.  It is illegal to smoke cannabis in public. It is also illegal for anyone under the age of 21 years old to smoke cannabis. However enforcement is difficult and adds to additional work for the Harrison Police Department. Check out our article entitled Top 10 Things You Should Know About New Jersey’s Cannabis Law for more information on New Jersey’s Cannabis Law.

Critics may argue that the board's decision-making process seems to prioritize commercial interests over community well-being. The inclusion of a cannabis retail store within a local mini-mall raises questions about accessibility, especially to younger demographics, and the overall impact on the town's character and safety.

As the Harrison Planning Board moves forward with its agenda, the residents of Harrison are invited to attend the meeting via Zoom.  You can click here to participate via Zoom on your computer or smartphone or you can use your phone to listen to the meeting and participate via a regular telephone by calling 646 876 9923 and entering the meeting number/webinar id 856 3269 9563 and Passcode 595850 when prompted to do so.

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