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WEST AMWELL – A national cultivator of medical cannabis wants to convert a vacant church into a facility to grow medicinal marijuana.
GMNJ Properties, part of Colorado-based Green Medicine, has applied to the township Planning Board to convert the former First Pentecostal Prayer of Faith Church at Route 518 and Rock Road into a 30,000-square-foot cultivation facility.
The application was originally expected to be heard by the Planning Board on Feb. 15 but because of a deficiency in its public notice, the hearing has been tentatively postponed until March 15.
Green Medicine received approval from the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission in October to open a cultivation facility.
The facility is a permitted conditional use under the township's zoning ordinance.
Green Medicine, which also has growing facilities in Colorado and Arizona and is seeking licenses in Illinois and Florida, would not allow public access to the site and would not have retail sales.
Green Medicine bought the 22-acre parcel with the 18,395-square-foot empty church building in December.
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No changes to the exterior, footprint or height of the building are proposed. Green Medicine is proposing to expand the second-floor balcony in the former sanctuary to a full second floor. Green Medicine would also make all necessary repairs to the building and property and would plant street trees along Route 518 and Rock Road.
The only variance that Green Medicine is seeking is for an 8-foot fence around the facility that is required by state regulations. Township zoning only allows 6-foot fences.
The First Pentecostal Prayer of Faith Church filed for bankruptcy in October 2016. If the cultivation center is approved, the township would then be able to collect property taxes because houses of worship are exempt from property taxes.
In January, after heated public meetings, Alexandria Township turned down a plan by Altus New Jersey LLC for growing and processing marijuana plants on preserved farmland off Airport Road.
Neighboring Kingwood Township has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Feb. 15 for a cannabis cultivation company to present plans for a facility to the Township Committee.
Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.