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Business owner’s application for zoning adjustment denied, suit follows

7/13/2012 | Real Estate Blog

A business owner recently sued the City of Camden, its zoning officer and the Zoning Board of Adjustments after having his application to use his buildings for the production of medical marijuana. The buildings, which are reportedly vacant, are located near Campbell Soup Co. headquarters and the Cooper University Hospital in Camden. One of the buildings, a vacant Sears store, was recently sold.

The business owner, who filed the application with the help of a community activist, hopes to turn a former store into a medical-marijuana farm and/or dispensary. According to the lawsuit, the Camden zoning board had no valid reason to deny the application.

The zoning decision behind the recent lawsuit was delivered back in March, and a similar permit request was denied last October. The reason given by the zoning board was that the proposal failed to comply with the uses allowed in the light-industrial zone, marijuana dispensaries not being specifically allowed in the zoning ordinance. The decision against the permit was unanimous.

New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, has been in effect for over two years, and so far only two of the six nonprofits approved by the state to sell marijuana have actually been granted the local permits necessary to do so. Two of those nonprofits were set aside for South Jersey. One has been approved to open a warehouse, but the other is still looking for a suitable location.

Attorneys for Cooper University Hospital raised concerns in the hearing that opening a medical marijuana dispensary to open could bring about increased crime and nuisance problems. Pennsylvania does not have a medical marijuana program, so this issue has not presented itself in the state, but the kinds of challenges faced by the applicant in this case often face developers and other businesspersons. Zoning battles, in particular, are a frequent occurrence for business owners of all types.

Source:, “Building owner sues Camden over its rejection of his medical-marijuana application,” Jan Hefler, June 29, 2012