Residents continue fight against facility

Monroe Township Council addresses treatment center ordinance pushback

For the third time in as many meetings, the Monroe Township Council was addressed by residents in regard to the alternative treatment center ordinance.

During the work session of the Sept. 23 meeting, resident and president of the Mobile Home Owners Association at Summerfields Friendly Village, Marlene McMahon, spoke up about the possibility of a medical marijuana facility entering Monroe Township at the parcel of land adjacent to Antony and Cleopatra Caterers.

Objections McMahon had to the possible cannabis facility included the proximity to Whitehall Elementary School, an increase in traffic on the Black Horse Pike and an increase in crime due to the influx of people a cannabis facility would bring in and the subsequent burden it would add to the local police department. She added the facility could lead to a decrease in home value in the surrounding area.

Members of the cannabis committee, Councilwoman Katherine Falcone and Councilman Cody Miller, said nothing is set in stone. A company submitted an application for a cannabis license with the state so there’s no guarantee they will be chosen for licensure. Falcone believes 24 licenses will be awarded in the next round and is estimating only one license will be given in the South Jersey area.

Miller built on her response, noting a lot of other companies have applied for licensure in previous rounds of application and the company trying to set up shop in Monroe Township is a first-time applicant.

“I will say the probability of them actually getting their licensing is very slim because this is an extremely competitive process. Most of the people that have applied for this have already applied once before. What I’m hearing about this applicant is this is their first time applying for it,” Miller said.

Falcone said if the company is awarded a license it will still have to follow state laws, like being 1,000 feet from a school.

McMahon alerted council to two petitions she was preparing to deliver to the clerk’s office: one will have a list of residents opposed to a cannabis facility being built in the lot adjacent to Antony and Cleopatra Caterers and the other is a list of residents who will vote against councilpeople who voted to allow for a cannabis facility to build on the lot.

In other news:

  • Jeff Behler, director of the New York region of the U.S. Census Bureau, gave a presentation during the council work session. Behler’s presentation covered the following topics: possible employment, the census is safe, the census is easy and the census is important. He said the majority of jobs are short-term with the possibility of nights and weekends and the majority of jobs pay between $16.50 and $20 per hour. The Census Bureau is looking for roughly 50,000 people. For more information, visit 2020census.gov/jobs.

“Every piece of data the Census Bureau collects is protected under Title 13, a federal law that took place in the 1950s that states we can’t release any information that will identify an individual or household, no one can access our data at any time for any reason,” Behler said.

He said everyone, from full-time workers to temporary workers, takes an oath of confidentiality for life, and if any information is released, an individual can face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

Behler said there will be four ways to respond to the 2020 census, including online and over the phone. He explicitly said the phone option is initiated by residents, not the census. If a resident receives a call from someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau it is a scam. There are still paper and door-to-door options. The 2020 census is short form only which includes name, age, date of birth race/ethnicity, whether you own or rent your home, gender and relationship to the first person on the form. He said the bureau will not ask for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or money, if someone is asked for those things it is a scam.

The final thing Behler touched on is the importance of the census, noting the seats in the House of Representatives are based on census data and a congressional redistricting will occur in 2022 based on census data. He added federal funding is awarded based on census data, too.

  • At the Sept. 9 council meeting it was reported that a bond ordinance could be authorized for the 2019 capital budget. This bond ordinance is part of a six-year plan laid out by council and will allow municipal departments like the police department and public works departments to purchase new equipment. The sum of the bond ordinance is roughly $3.5 million. This ordinance was adopted on second reading at the Sept. 23 meeting.
  • Council awarded proclamations for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Energy Efficiency Day 2019, as well as Applebee’s Williamstown.
  • The next council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 14 at the municipal building. A work session will take place at 7 p.m. with the general meeting at 8 p.m. Both sessions are open to the public.