Mayor Fried Addresses Legal Cannabis With Robbinsville Advance

Mayor Dave Fried recently sat down with Robbinsville Advance editor Bill Sanservino to talk about issues impacting the township’s past and future.

The first part of the Q&A resulting from that interview ran in the March issue of the Advance and addressed impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the township, police and public safety and the 2022 municipal budget. In part two, Fried discussed the status of the Robbinsville Town Center development, the Foxmoor Shopping Center, and the state of commercial real estate and its impact on township revenues.

In the final part of the interview, the mayor addressed issues including the types of cannabis businesses that might be allowed in Robbinsville, development and relations with neighboring communities, and the potential for more residential housing to be built in town and the impact on the school district.

Robbinsville Advance: One of the big growth industries in New Jersey is recreational cannabis, now that it’s been legalized. Robbinsville has taken a wait-and-see approach as to whether it will allow any cannabis businesses in town. We’re starting to see a number of towns allow cannabis businesses as the state is clarifying the rules and offering licenses. Do you think that eventually the town will move into some acceptance of the cannabis industry?

Mayor Fried: I think, certainly grow and manufacturing facilities are some things that we’re taking seriously. We were cautious going in because we didn’t understand the rules, and frankly, I didn’t want to dive in to something where we were didn’t understand what the rules were going to be. I’m less excited about the retail. Number one, because I know my residents, and while they voted for it overwhelmingly, no one’s going to want one near their home.

Secondarily, I really belongs as a highway commercial business—similar to what Bordentown did with one of their retail locations. It was really very well and tastefully done. I don’t think there will be any shortage of retail, but I’m not sure that’s really something that we’ve got a good location for. Most of our retail spaces are near residential. I do think we can be good location for manufacturing, possibly also the grow. There’s a considerable amount of tax revenue in those two items and very little in retail. Further, I really question how the state is going to regulate retail.

They’ve got a number of operators right now. who are selling in Trenton without a license. If it’s been decriminalized, how will you stop the licensed retail as opposed to the unlicensed. If there are no criminal penalties, once you get into that business, how will you stop those that are regulated from those who are unregulated? So the retail for me is really a challenge, and I think it would be a mistake for us to go into that business until we understand it a little bit better, and until the rules are understood a little bit better.

Robbinsville Advance: Off the top of my head, I can’t see any great area for a cannabis shop in Robbinsville, except maybe somewhere out on Route 130. But like you said, it’s still pretty close to some housing.

Mayor Fried: Almost every site on Route 130 has housing behind it, so you are going to have unhappy residents. I think there will be plenty of retail opportunities throughout the area within a few miles of Robbinsville. I don’t think there’s going to be a shortage of opportunities for our residents who are looking for it. I’m just not sure it’s for us.