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News (Media Awareness Project) - US NJ: Westampton Board Denies Medical Marijuana Operation
Title:US NJ: Westampton Board Denies Medical Marijuana Operation
Published On:2012-01-05
Source:Burlington County Times (NJ)
Fetched On:2012-01-06 06:02:53

WESTAMPTON -- New Jersey may have legalized marijuana for medical
purposes, but members of a township land use board decided it
shouldn't be grown and dispensed from a Hancock Lane warehouse that is
near an age-restricted housing development.

Compassionate Care Foundation Inc. had sought the township Land
Development Board's approval to open a medical marijuana growing and
dispensing operation in the 40,000 square-foot warehouse off Hancock

The group is one of six nonprofit groups selected by the state
Department of Health and Senior Services to grow and dispense medical
marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses.

But the board shot down the group's proposal Wednesday, first
rejecting its appeal that a medical marijuana operation complies with
the building's existing zoning and then denying the group's request
for a use variance for that purpose.

The board voted 4-3 against the zoning appeal and 5-2 against the use

The second vote followed a public hearing where about a dozen
residents from the nearby Fernbrooke age-restricted housing community
spoke against the project. Most of the residents said they were
sympathetic to the sick people who want the drug, but they were
adamant that the proposed location was too close to their residential

Several said they feared the marijuana operation would attract
criminals and drug addicts to their neighborhood and cause their
property values to decline.

"My major concern is location, location, location," Fernbrooke
resident Robert Lee said during the hearing. "This is the worst place
to put it."

Compassionate Care Foundation chief executive officer Bill Thomas and
other representatives from the nonprofit insisted that the operation
would attract only sick patients and that security at the site would
be tight, with exterior and interior cameras and armed guards.

The organization has also offered to pay for a gate and guard at the
Fernbrooke entrance or other security upgrades the residents might

After the meeting, Thomas said the group would appeal the board's
denial to Superior Court.

"They decided not to follow the law and to follow emotion," Thomas
said, adding that the building was perfect for a marijuana growing
operation and worth a court fight.
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