US (NJ): Owners of once-proposed cannabis cultivation site file lawsuit against Brick township

Brick Township’s planning board, zoning board and the township as a whole is being sued by the owners of the former bank property originally proposed as a medical cannabis dispensary and grow house.

The company, 385 Adamston LLC, eventually scaled back their proposal to include only the 48,000 square-foot grow house, then reversed course and changed the proposal to retain the grow house, but cultivate lettuce and leafy greens instead of cannabis. In May, the zoning board ruled that indoor farming is not allowed in the Rural Residential zone, where the facility is located. The township’s zoning ordinance allows “customary and conventional” farming in that zone, but includes no definition of “customary and conventional,” which forced the board to hold a determination hearing. At that hearing, the board voted unanimously to determine that indoor farming does not meet the definition and 385 Adamston, also known as Jersey Shore Therapeutic Health Care, must obtain a use variance in order to build their facility.

Between the time when the project was proposed in its original form and when the crop of choice was switched to lettuce, the company filed a new application with the planning board. Unlike the zoning board, which grants variances to provide relief from zoning restrictions, the planning board oversees the applications of properties that are already allowed in their respective zones. In the case of 385 Adamston, the company’s attorney, Dennis Galvin, declared that the project was an allowable use in the zone, despite the fact that the planning board referred the case back to the zoning board. Because the zoning board did not approve or deny the project within a statutory time frame of 45 days, Galvin has taken the stance that it received automatic approval under state law. The planning board, however, did not act because its attorney determined the board had no jurisdiction over the case and the proper venue was the zoning board.

The controversy has now sparked a lawsuit against the planning board and the township as a whole by 385 Adamston LLC.


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