ATL. HIGHLANDS – In keeping with their belief they want all the facts, rules and regulations to be known before making a decision that will have a major impact on the borough, the Mayor and Council tonight unanimously adopted an ordinance banning all cannabis businesses from the borough.
However, council also made it clear during the public hearing that once the state regulations on all factors involving the distribution, sale, and growth of cannabis are announced by the CDC, they will revisit the questions and possibly make other decisions. Council explained to the few people in attendance at the meeting that taking action other than banning cannabis without knowing all the regulations puts the borough in the position of having to allow all types of cannabis business and not being able to change regulations for five years.
While several members of the public praised the governing body for taking this action to ensure they know the ramifications that could follow should they have taken no action, others at the meeting did not appear to know the reason for the ordinance being acted upon.
Tim Schultheis, who openly admitted he smokes marijuana, legal in the state, and said as a former infectious disease officers and EMT, he has never had to take anyone to the hospital because of an overdose of marijuana as he has had to with alcohol related problems or heroin overdose, told the borough leaders several times to “be smart,” and permit cannabis businesses in the borough and enable the borough to make money on the business. He explained he purchases his own supply of marijuana in Trenton in a store behind the city office building, and pointed out it is not illegal to possess marijuana.
The former Keansburg resident was advised by Borracha that the ordinance being enacted is “temporary” and he realizes a lot of people would welcome some type of marijuana facility in the borough, but with restrictions and regulations that the borough itself could impose. Councilwoman Lori Hohenleitner added that she has spoken with the resident in the past, and repeated she expects the state regulations to be released soon.
Brian Dougherty and Regina Keelan both praised the governing body for withholding approvals of any facilities without having all the state regulations, and Jim Krauss , who serves on the Task Force Commission on Cannabis added the borough was correct in taking pause. Krauss said the NJ League of Municipalities to which the borough belongs, and the NJ Attorneys group both have recommended municipalities take action similar to what the governing body was doing at this meeting.
Morgan Spicer said the borough should act to encourage people to come to the borough to open business and noted that the cannabis variety of permitted businesses would create tax benefits for the borough.
In other business, council also passed a third ordinance after no one objected at the public hearing, amending the ordinance regulating 5G nodes on existing poles ad establishing a wireless siting plan to minimize the number and location of poles in the borough to ensure equal distribution.
By resolutions, it approved a settlement agreement with PBA Local 242, authorized an Affordable Housing Administrative Agent, and authorized an agreement for use of facilities for Mass Prophylaxis vaccinations should that ever become necessary. Hubeny said the facilities have been located, but would not be announced until or if the program became necessary.
In response to questions on whether regionalization of Highlands, Atlantic Highlands and Sea Bright school districts is still a matter of discussion, Administrator Adam Hubeny said meeting of the mayors and administrators of Highlands and Atlantic Highlands is scheduled for Tuesday.
He also indicated a meeting with the Rev. Jarlath Quinn and others from St. Agnes Church to continue discussion of the Mother Teresa school sale, is being arranged now for continued discussions.
With the meeting being offered both in person, and virtually, with those attending virtually only permitted to hear but not speak at the meeting, Hubeny said the most that attended the virtual session for this meeting was 11.