An amendment to an existing ordinance that allows cannabis business to operate within the Township of West Milford and sets allowable distances between these businesses and parks, schools and other cannabis businesses, is scheduled for a public hearing on the council meeting agenda on May 18.
The amendment under consideration reflects the council’s desire to update the local law to minimize confusion and better define “parks, park areas or municipal grounds as park areas.”
Following the second reading of the proposed ordinance and the public hearing, the council may pass the proposal which would result in amendment of Section 500-191 “definitions” of the West Milford Zoning Revised Ordinances.
The definition being given to “Park”, according to Ordinance 23, which is on the table, is: “Areas larger than one acre used for active recreation that are owned and managed by a government entity and that have improvements such as athletic fields, playground equipment and/or pavilions.” If passed the ordinance will take effect immediately on passage.
After much council discussion, when eventually a roll call vote on whether to move forward or not with introduction of the ordinance amendment, Councilmen Kevin Goodsir, Michael Chazukow and David Marsden voted in favor of moving ahead and Council members Ada Erik, Marilyn Lichtenberg and Warren Gross voted not to support the action, Mayor Michele Dale voted in the affirmative, breaking the council 3 – 3 deadlock.
During the discussion before the vote Councilwoman Lichtenberg suggested that there be a revision stating developed areas larger than one acre that are owned and/or managed by a government entity and used for passive and active recreation be considered. Councilwoman Erik mentioned that the Pinecliff Lake Beach area is privately owned, and Mayor Dale responded that cannabis businesses cannot be placed in a residential area according to the ordinance already in place.
Councilman Gross had concerns with the language and what would actually be considered a park. He pointed out that most of the parks are under an acre. Councilman Chazukow and Councilman Goodsir said they were fine with the amendment as written. Councilman Marsden interpreted the amendment to add more restrictions, not less.
When the local governing board had an earlier discussion on the definition of what a “park” is, not everyone on the council was ready to move forward. Councilmen Michael Charzukow, Goodsir and David Marsden voted to introduce the ordinance and Councilwomen Ada Erik, Councilwoman Marilyn Lichtenberg and Warren Gross were not. Mayor Michele Dale broke the 3-3 tie and voted with Harzukow, Goodsir and Marsden to introduce the ordinance.