Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "I Need Your Feedback - Marijuana and Concrete Bus Stops"

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors:
 
I need your feedback on two topics:
  • Allowing marijuana establishments in Hoboken (if approved by NJ)
  • Extended sidewalk/bumpouts for bus stops on upper Washington
 
MARIJUANA – 
 
We really have not had a public discussion on this.  But at the last City Council meeting, the administration put forth for first reading an ordinance to allow establishments in Hoboken once approved at the state level.  The City Council pulled it from the agenda so no vote was taken.  Here is the quick summary of what was proposed (or you can click on the Jersey Digs article that does a good job):
  • Only 3 “Establishments” allowed in Hoboken.  One in each of three industrial and commercial zoning districts –I-1, I-2 and CBD.  It is not at all allowed in the residential (R-1, R-2 or R-3) districts.  The areas affected are outlined in pink in the attached zoning map.
  • Of note for my 2nd Ward neighbors:  I-1(w) is included in this which is all of the Hudson Tea, Shipyard and Maxwell buildings - odd, since these are 90% residential. 
  • And also of note for friends further south, this would include CBD(H)(CS) which is Court Street - again odd, because Court Street is almost all residential.
  • Establishments as used in the ordinance is an all-encompassing term:  
“MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENT – An umbrella term that encompasses all facilities used for and/or associated with legal marijuana, including but not limited to, medical marijuana dispensaries, retail marijuana stores, marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities, marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana testing facilities, and/or marijuana storage facilities."
  • In all cases either a Marijuana Establishment must go to the planning or zoning board which means property owners within 200 feet would receive notice in advance of any hearing/decision; however Marijuana Establishments are being added as permitted uses in the zones indicated above so the boards do not have a lot of leeway to say no in these areas.
  • Marijuana Establishments must have State and Hoboken License to operate.
  • In Hoboken, it will be Director Pelligrini, Director of Health and Human Services who will have oversight of approving and administering licenses which will cost up to $15,000 each.
At the state level, although we don’t have all the details, it looks like marijuana will become legalized, although you will not be able to use it in public.  You must be 21 to purchase.  And it will be taxed at 14% with the potential for local cities to charge their own tax of another 2%.
 
So my thoughts – there are a lot of both pros and cons.  
  • Some pros – economic stimulus and revenue generation for Hoboken.  With 11 million people across the river who cannot purchase marijuana legally, we are a stone’s throw away and that can be good for our local businesses.  I believe the argument about the social injustices of African Americans being much more likely to be arrested for small marijuana offenses and would like to see that stop.  
  • Some cons – 11 million people across the river… all coming to Hoboken, maybe even by car and the potential congestion that causes.  Reconciling how our close-knit community with so many children operates with a huge influx of people buying marijuana for recreational use (I am less bothered by medicinal use).  
I don’t know the right answer, other than we need public input.  Councilman DeFusco chairs the zoning subcommittee (which I am also on along with Councilman Doyle), and has asked that we have a full public meeting before this comes back on the City Council agenda.  
 
EXTENDED SIDEWALKS / BUS STOPS ON UPPER WASHINGTON ST.
 
I, along with Councilman Cunningham and others (including the mayor) have received a number of complaints about the recently installed concrete bus stop/sidewalk extension that was installed at the SW corner of 10thand Washington, in front of Muller Insurance.  There is another one installed on Washington and 8th, and one under construction at 12th.  These are not corner bump outs, but rather effectively they have installed a long extension of the sidewalk instead of just marking the bus stops red, like they did downtown.  I have spoken to the administration who explained that given the streets are wider uptown, although inconsisent in design across our main street, there was room to install this preferred alternative so that buses did not have to dip into towards the sidewalk to pick up passengers.  Now they can just drive straight, stop in front of the curb, and passengers can board the bus.  And the administration has also indicated that there is still sufficient room for both an 11’ travel lane and a 13’ passing lane.    See below the diagram (sorry so small) for the 10th street intersection (the top is west).  The sidewalk extension is highlighted on the south west corner.
 
 
For clarity in case you hear otherwise, the City Council did not approve this plan.  We approved a modification sans bike lanes but never actually had the revised plans that would have shown these so they are a surprise to all of us.  We have asked the administration to pause to discuss this design choice.  But in the interim, I welcome your thoughts.
 
 
Thank you in advance for providing feedback.  I would also encourage you to write to other council members and the administration on both.  As always, if you have any further questions or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674 or email me.   
 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
 
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”
 
PSS - Hotel detox and further City updates still coming next...