VERONA, NJ - The Verona Town Council held its virtual meeting on Monday and provided many announcements, updates, and discussions of town developments as quarantine restrictions are lifted. As the state continues to reopen, the council had much to report about how these loosened restrictions will be implemented in Verona. 

Some topics discussed pertained to the easing quarantine measures included updating the town pool’s operations to fit new social distancing guidelines, distribution of mail-in ballots for the upcoming primary election, and opening zoning permits for businesses to provide safe outdoor seating. Essex County facilities such as the surrogate and the register will also be opening in the near future.

The public comments were frequent throughout much of the meeting. While there were some general questions and concerns regarding public spaces like parks and the town pool as they adapt to follow new safety guidelines, most of the increased comments during the final public comment, in which most residents addressed the medical cannabis dispensary proposal, were largely negative. 

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Despite the council announcing it would be tabling its vote on the proposed opening of a medical cannabis dispensary in town, many residents shared their grievances and apprehensions toward the proposal ahead of the vote later this month. Much of the comments against the proposal voiced concerns over potential repercussions and dangers of a dispensary such as increased crime rate, lack of product quality assurance, and the risk of medical-only sales turning recreational too.

The council and the mayor had answers and rebuttals to most of the apprehensions and negative beliefs about the dispensary, primarily addressing that the proposed dispensary is medical-only even if marijuana becomes recreationally legal in the future. And while some negative commenters urged fully shooting down the proposal, others urged the council to wait until there is further marijuana legislation from the state. There were also a handful of callers that expressed full support for dispensary. 

Mayor Jack McEvoy made proclamations to recognize National Gun Violence Awareness Day as well as recognize Pride Month and show support for the LGBTQ+ community. The mayor also recognized the upcoming Black Lives Matter rally taking place in Verona on Saturday, expressing his hope that the gathering can remain peaceful and productive. He also encouraged Verona residents to register and take part in the upcoming Census, stressing the importance of high participation. 

Further COVID updates will be made by Verona and Essex County, and information regarding these updates will follow new state guidelines. The public will also have a chance to continue to share their thoughts, questions, and opinions on the dispensary proposal at the next virtual council meeting on June 22.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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