A Hoboken condo association group is suing all parties related to a cannabis dispensary including the Jersey City mayor’s wife and her business partner in an attempt to block the project.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
51-53 14th Street Condominium Association, Inc. filed a 23-page lawsuit against 51-53 14th Street Retail LLC, Exchange Physical Therapy Group, Drew Nussbaum, Jaclyn Fulop, Story Dispensary, Samantha Silva, and Howard Hintz in the Hudson County Superior Court Chancery Division on Monday.
“This action arises out of the deceit employed by the current owners of the commercial unit of an eight-unit Condominium building located in Hoboken, New Jersey to permit and facilitate the installation of a cannabis dispensary under the false pretense of relocating a physical therapy practice,” the lawsuit says.
“The proposed use is not only violative of the Association’s governing documents; it is incongruent with the character of the building, residential zone, and is undermined by the express representations made to the seller of the commercial unit to induce sale of the unit. In short, it is a prohibited use that should be enjoined and for which damages should issue.”
According to the plaintiffs attorneys, Vincenzo Mogavero and Martin Cabalar, of Red Bank-based law firm Becker & Poliakoff, LLP, the Hudson Tavern listed the restaurant and liquor license for sale on May 26th, 2020.
Then on July 7th, the listing was revised to reflect the Commercial Unit, owned by Bren II Corp., being for sale.
“In attendance at the first showing of the property was Mr. Nussbaum, the chiropractor at Exchange, Ms. Fulop, a physical therapist at Exchange, and Ms. Fulop’s husband, Steven Fulop, the Mayor of Jersey City,” the suit asserts.
“The group liked the space, and during the meeting, Mr. Fulop asked if Mr. Brennan was willing to take the property off the market at that time. Thereafter, Mr. Nussbaum verbally confirmed on numerous occasions with Mr. Brennan that he intended to move his physical therapy/chiropractic practice to the commercial space.”
This allegation is not new: it is nearly verbatim what former Hudson Tavern owner Tom Brennan alleged at the February 24th Hoboken Cannabis Review Board meeting where Story Dispensary received approval.
Fulop and Nussbaum, business partners at the Exchange Physical Therapy Group, eventually purchased the space at 51-53 14th Street for $2.4 million, the suit says.
The condo association further alleges that they were never told that the space would be rented out to Story Dispensary and on April 30th, their board of trustees passed a resolution “clarifying the sale, use, display, transfer, distribution and/or smoking vaping, or aerosolizing of cannabis and/or marijuana as a deleterious activity.”
Earlier that month, the city council passed “common sense” cannabis reforms that scaled back the number of dispensaries to six and scaled back zoning in residential neighborhoods, among other things.
Shortly after that, four council members called on Story to withdraw their planning board application since it would be “in the center of the most densely populated residential area” of the city.
The six-count suit seeks declaratory judgement, injunctive relief, as well as alleging nuisance – use of land interfering with others, common law fraud, civil conspiracy, and corporate veil piercing/alter ego.
As a result, they are seeking the court to declare that the space can’t be used as a cannabis dispensary, injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees interests and costs, as well as any other relief the court deems just and equitable.
Lee Vartan, counsel for Story Dispensary, said they plan on filing a motion to dismiss in short order.
“The complaint does not allege viable causes of action against Story or its principals. We will promptly move to dismiss,” he told HCV.