CHATHAM, NJ - At the urging of Chatham Township Mayor Curt Ritter, the township committee voted, 4-1, to introduce a "use" ordinance that would ban the sale and cultivation of marijuana at its regular meeting on Thursday.
Committee member Michael Kelly cast the no vote, stating that the ordinance "seems cumbersome and unnecessary" at this time, noting that the state is still considering legislation that would allow for recreational use of marijuana. Kelly said he wanted to see the "exact language" of any legislation before taking action. Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on legalizing recreational use of cannabis.
Ritter had mentioned banning marijuana use at his yearly address in January and opened the discussion of the issue before the ordinance was introduced.
Voting for the measure were Tayfun Selen, Ritter, Karen Swartz and Kevin Sullivan. The Chatham Township Planning Board will review the ordinance to see if it is consistent with the town master plan before it will be up for adoption at the April 12 committee meeting.
Resident Tracy Ness expressed concerns about the township being vulnerable to lawsuits for "spot zoning" if the ordinance became law and the state followed with the legalization allowing recreational use of marijuana. Cannabis advocates had attended the Feb. 12 meeting of the Borough of Chatham Council and mentioned Ritter's stance on the subject. They were absent on Thursday.
The measure would "Prohibit Marijuana Cultivation, Production Testing, Manufacturing Facilities and Retail Stores in all Zone Districts."
Albert E. Cruz, township attorney, explained that the ordinance coincides with current state law and that the marijuana legislation now being considered in Trenton has a one-year "carve out" that allows municipalities to opt-out. See his remarks in the video below.
Michael Kelly gives his reasons for voting no on the ordinance that would ban marijuana sale in Chatham Township
Mayor Ritter and Kelly discuss the merits of the ordinance before the vote