Byram bans cannabis commerce, for now

Byram. The council unanimously passed a resolution stating their reasons for adopting the cannabis ordinance prohibiting licenses at this time, which the planning board found was inconsistent with the township’s master plan.

| 22 Jun 2021 | 06:03

In a 4-1 vote, the Byram Township Council on June 22 prohibited all classes of cannabis business in the township.

Mayor Alexander Rubenstein was the lone vote against the ordinance that prohibits cannabis licenses in the township.

Rubenstein said the planning board found the ordinance to be inconsistent with the township’s master plan.

Township attorney Thomas Collins said that when a planning board finds an ordinance “not to be consistent,” the governing body still has the authority to adopt the ordinance along with a resolution stating its reasons.

The council wants to wait until after Aug. 22, when the state guidelines are due to come out, before passing any ordinances regulating cannabis commerce.

Councilman Harvey Roseff said it was “very wrong” for the state to compel municipalities to make a decision before establishing its rules.

Rubenstein challenged three of the councilmembers to authorize a sub-committee or group of professionals to evaluate how to pursue cannabis licenses in Byram.

No one from the public commented on the ordinance.

New Jersey offers municipalities the regulation of six classes of licenses, for cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and delivery services. Municipalities cannot interfere with their residents having marijuana delivered to them.

Natural gas transmission: The council unanimously authorized New Jersey Natural Gas to construct, maintain, and operate natural gas transmission in Byram
Construction presentation: The Nader Group and MJA Construction gave a presentation on the municipal building project, including site plan revisions. The total estimated construction cost is $4.9 million. The total project estimate, including soft costs, is $5.5 million. After discussion, the council agreed the planning board should review the site plan.
Money for the park: The council unanimously agreed to pursue a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres grant or loan of $352,500 for the first phase of C.O. Johnson Park improvements, including dog park construction, parking, and trail. Township manager Joseph Sabatini said the township will apply for the low-interest loan, and that Byram is not eligible for the grant. Rubenstein said many of the DEP grants are reserved for a defined list of municipalities, and that the medium household income in Byram is too high to get it on the grant list.
Dog park: The council unanimously authorized French and Parrello to provide engineering and landscape architecture services for a Dog Park in Byram Township, not to exceed $39,525.
Hazard mitigation: Sabatini said the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the township an additional $234,000 for the Little Paint Way hazard mitigation project.