4 Hoboken council members call on Story Dispensary to withdraw their planning board application


Four Hoboken City Council members are calling on Story Dispensary LLC to pull their cannabis dispensary application from the planning board since it would be “in the center of the most densely populated residential area” of the city.

The former Hudson Tavern in Hoboken may be converted into a cannabis dispensary. Photo via change.org.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

While the council approved “common sense” cannabis reforms at last week’s meeting, the Story application for 51-53 14th St. – the former Hudson Tavern – will likely not be affected by the new regulations since they submitted their application to the planning board before they took effect.

The new laws cap the total number of dispensaries at six and more clearly delineate residential areas where recreational cannabis dispensaries cannot be located, such as within 600 feet of a school.

“My neighbors moved to this residential area because it was family friendly, quiet, and close to the Hudson River waterfront walkway. They did not move to a tourist destination and party zone which is feared what will happen if the Hudson Tavern dispensary moves forward,” 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, whose ward is where the proposed dispensary is located, said in a statement.

“We are asking that the dispensary operator and property owner rescind their application, respect the interests of the surrounding neighborhood and avoid what are expected to be continuous problems in the future.”

One of the other changes approved last week was removing cannabis as conditional use in the recently created C-3 Neighborhood Commercial Districts, which were formerly residential zones – which includes the 14th Street neighborhood near the former bar.

“We rebranded certain densely populated, residential areas in 2019 as C-3 Neighborhood Commercial to make it easier for and attract businesses that were not previously permitted like the top-rated restaurant and fish market Tutta Pesce. They ended up leaving Hoboken because the zoning was too costly and difficult,” added 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos.

“Cannabis dispensaries were not the kind of business we intended in C-3 and our laws should never have been expanded to include these residential areas. If a dispensary were proposed for a C-3 zone in my ward, my neighbors and I would equally oppose it.”

The Hoboken City Council unanimously approved zoning for legal cannabis last year following a ballot question about legalizing marijuana passing overwhelmingly in November 2020.

Since the Story application has drawn a negative reaction from residents, the council has begun taking action to scale back permitted areas, such as Marine View Plaza, and has also banned all forms of smoking in parks.

“This is about finding the right balance in Hoboken between quality of life, social justice, and reducing taxes,” noted 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, who represents the ward where Marine View is located.

“Allowing cannabis dispensaries to be located at the base of residential towers makes little sense and is contrary to our state law which provides for dispensaries in commercial and industrial areas.”

While Hoboken voters approved the aforementioned ballot question by an over 70 percent plurality, these council members say many of those same residents have indicated that they don’t want recreational cannabis sold near schools, parks, and residential areas.

“We haven’t yet figured out what this means for today’s children and communities. And in a town with an increasing number of families and children, where we all share the same backyard, a more measured approach is what is needed,” explained 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino.

Their opposition to the project is nothing new, as they all came out against it when the council was asked to do so at their March 23rd meeting by resident Leslie Bradley, who lives at 51-53 14th St.

The planning board does not convene again until May 5th and therefore does not have an agenda prepared yet.

Fisher has been outspoken against the project since before the cannabis review board hearing on February 24th, reigniting her feud with Mayor Ravi Bhalla – who also pushed for some new cannabis regulations.

Representatives for Story could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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  1. Bhalla needs to turn Hoboken into a cannabis superstore to pay the bills. What do you do when overdevelopment isn’t enough? Make Mike Russo the City Cannabis Czar and watch the money flow. HHA redevelopment is just the cherry on top. Mikey certainly hit the jackpot in the Ravi/Russo sweepstakes.

    • You mean she got conned by Ravi Russo? Try to blame the victim all you want but this is a Ravi/Russo special. An overdeveloped Pot superstore. That’s the Ravi/Russo vision for Hoboken. Ravi will follow in Zimmer’s footsteps and be gone soon but Russo will be cashing in for years. Ka – ching. Mama and Papa would have been proud.

      • Ah, interesting. So, now the spin is Fischer isn’t responsible for the faulty votes and positions she takes because, what…the devil made her do it? She’s a grown up (give it a try sometime) who was elected to do her job. She paid attention (in theory) to the proposal, reviewed the map (in theory), and gave her ok.

        • Actually she admitted she made an error and she worked to fix it.
          That said did Cohen, Doyle, Jabbour, Quintero all fully understood that they were screwing over the residents of Hoboken and just didn’t care ? Their only possible excuse is they were just following orders.

          Once the public’s attention was focused on their back room dealings their plans were altered for the betterment of Hoboken residents.

          • Great point – humility appears to be a lost virtue in politics, especially around here. Props to Tiffanie for raising her hand and saying she should have asked more questions — sad that the others could not bring themselves to do the same. It has become apparent to many that this is a potentially good idea that is being poorly executed. There must be SOME way to right this wrong before we slide further backward? Is there a civic minded lawyer in the house?
            Russo must be laughing himself silly – -he got to become Mayor without running for the office…..

          • I actually know a fair number of smokers in the shipyard and surrounding buildings who love the idea of a dispensary there, but they’d get attacked by the vocal minority if they said anything. So instead, it seems as if the entire city is up in arms against it when it’s not really the case.

        • Nice attempt at deflection. But this isn’t about Councilwoman Fisher who has apologized for not seeing what Ravi/Russo was trying to slide through. It’s about Ravi/Russo’s undisguised plan to turn Hoboken into an overdeveloped Pot Superstore. Time to follow the money before it’s too late.

          • Actually, it’s about a councilperson who’s too busy composing her meandering 40,000-word emails to read and comprehend legislation, and then spends the next month moaning about it.

          • Poor sad little Oopsy, the strain on a pot clouded brain to read is just far too much.
            A mind even a small one is terrible thing to lose.

          • Hey UG, your attempt at “humor” (I guess) is kind of embarrassing but I imagine you’re used to that sort of thing at this point. I haven’t smoked weed in almost 20 years and don’t intend to start again when the dispensaries open.

            Care to explain what it is I’m not understanding? Because I’m pretty sure I hit the nail on the head, otherwise you wouldn’t have tried to do your weak attempt at damage control.

  2. Shouldn’t those members of Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s team recuse themselves from because of their close connections to Jersey City Mayor Fullop ? Fullop’s wife is part of the company seeking to open up a cannabis store/lounge on 14th Street .

    • Recuse? That would be like surrendering all the loot. Ravi didn’t run this scam to come up empty now. These are the kind of royalties that create generational wealth. Time to get paid.

  3. This is a joke. Fisher’s ward is no more residential, family friendly or quiet than a bunch of others in Hoboken. The only difference is race and money. Those people better not complain about high taxes, then. But you know they will.