A plan to convert a vacant church into a marijuana cultivation facility has been approved by the township Planning Board.
In a marathon meeting that ended after 1 a.m. Friday, the board approved the proposal by Green Medicine NJ and GMNJ Properties to convert the former First Pentecostal Prayer of Faith Church at the intersection of Rock Road West and Route 518 into the cultivation facility.
Green Medicine bought the 22-acre parcel with the 29,000-square-foot empty church building for $2.45 million.
No changes to the exterior, footprint or height of the building are proposed. Green Medicine would also make all necessary repairs to the building and property and would plant trees along Rock Road West and Route 518.
The township has signed a host community agreement with Green Medicine calling for the company to pay an annual $100,000 community fee for five years, a total of $500,000 if the proposal is approved.
Green Medicine also has agreed to pay the township a 2% tax based on its gross revenue in medical marijuana sales.
The agreement “is to assist the township in addressing the potential health, safety and other effects or impacts of the facility may have on the township and on municipal programs.”
Still pending in Superior Court is a lawsuit filed June 30 by WoodMeier Farms on Rock Road West challenging the Hunterdon County Health Department’s approval of a septic system for the cultivation facility, claiming it was invalid because a report on the system made “false representations.”
The suit, filed by WoodMeier Farms on Rock Road West, also names Green Medicine NJ and GMNJ Properties, which want to convert a vacant church at the intersection of Rock Road West and Route 518 into the cultivation facility.
The lawsuit alleges that the county Health Department based its approval of the property’s septic system based on a letter submitted by Green Medicine’s engineer that detailed an independent firm’s inspection in 2021.
The engineer’s letter, according to the lawsuit, certified that the system is not malfunctioning and would not increase the daily sewage usage. But, the lawsuit alleges, the letter misrepresented the findings of the inspection.
The inspection alleges that “detailed several problems with the septic system” and that “additional investigation is needed.” But based on the engineer’s letter, the county Health Department granted approval on June 20.