Hoboken 14th Street residents are calling on Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his administration to halt the Story Dispensary application ahead of tomorrow’s planning board meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The quality-of-life implications to Hoboken residents in this neighborhood are enormous,” Glenn Nelson, who lives in a building across from the proposed dispensary, said in a statement.
“When you see the long lines and big parking lots filled with cars at dispensaries on busy commercial roads elsewhere in the state, you think “‘how could this possibly fit in this tight, residential corner of Hoboken?’”
The proposed cannabis business would operate at the former Hudson Tavern, 51-53 14th St., and the space is owned by Jaclyn Fulop, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s wife, and Drew Nussbaum, Jaclyn’s business partner at the Exchange Physical Therapy Group.
While 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, Fisher, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino, have called on Story to withdraw their application, though it has already clear the city’s cannabis review board and the county planning board.
“I don’t think we are being unreasonable in asking the city to deny the Story application,” added Roberto Verthelyi, a resident living in a neighboring building.
“All we want is for Hoboken officials to run Hoboken for Hoboken residents; not for the mayor of Jersey City. Every step of the way, there have been thumbs on the scale favoring Mayor Fulop’s interest with a total disregard for the surrounding neighborhood which has spoken loudly against the dispensary.”
City spokeswoman Marilyn Baer reiterated that each council members had the opportunity to tailor cannabis zones in their ward and the area that includes Hudson Tavern was not excluded.
“As spelled out by ordinances passed by the City Council, the Hoboken Planning Board will review the proposed dispensary on its merits, evaluate its consistency with the City’s Master Plan and zoning code, as well as ensuring the dispensary is adhering to all city codes, including multiple ordinances passed with the unanimous support of all nine City Council members,” she said.
“It’s unfortunate that when each Ward Council member was provided the opportunity, in these same ordinances, to permit or eliminate certain regions in their Wards for the locations of dispensaries, the 2nd Ward Council member Tiffanie Fisher chose to literally carve out her own home, while permitting dispensaries elsewhere in her Ward, including 14th Street, which she is now leading the charge against.”
At a community event this evening, Bhalla said essentially the same thing regarding the process, expressing no personal preference one way or another.
“We’re gonna let the process run it’s course, there will be a hearing before the planning board, I believe it’s a conditional use hearing, and then after that, if they pass that stage, we’ll move on to the next stage. Everyone will have a chance to have their voice heard and we’ll see where things land.”
Fisher expressed great disappointment with that response.
“Our Hoboken neighbors whose lives have been upended are pleading for his support, and this is all Mayor Bhalla offers them. He has the ability to direct the outcome of this using his vote and influence with the Hoboken Planning Board,” she said.
“In punting this way with his dishonest narrative, he is basically saying ‘I choose Jersey City Mayor Fulop over my Hoboken neighbors.’ What other conclusion can there be?”
The matter has led to a widely publicized lawsuit filed last month by the 51-53 14th Street Condominium Association, Inc. and has since devolved into a blood feud between Fisher and Mayor Fulop.
This morning after the councilwoman tweeted the cover of Tuesday’s Jersey Journal highlighting a recent Fisher newsletter that attacked Fulop over the dispensary, the neighboring mayor responded in kind.
“Tiffany I’m going to write this once + then leave it be it’s unfortunate you continue to outright lie to ppl. 1) I have no ownership here at all 2) You yourself wrote the zone. You carved out your home + put this in 3) the racial undertones/language you push are extraordinary,” he wrote.
In a lengthy seven-tweet reply, Fisher acknowledged he didn’t own the space but his wife does, said she didn’t write the legislation for the C3 zone (but supported it), and asked to clarify what he meant by racial undertones.
“on [sic] behalf of my neighbors, I recognize not all, I ask that you please ask your wife @ her partner to cancel the MOU w/Story Disp, honor #Hoboken’s prior & current laws & put the interests of #Hoboken residents who live in this family filled neighborhood before your own,” she concluded.
The Hoboken Planning Board convenes tomorrow at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 94 Washington St.