The planning board in South Toms River has given its approval for a partial demolition and renovation of a derelict building on Atlantic City Boulevard (Route 9) that will house retail space, including a cannabis dispensary.
Whether or not the space has been leased to a client yet or not is unknown, however the board approved an application by STRKEY Properties, LLC, based in Freehold, to open a retail complex at 225 Atlantic City Boulevard that would include one. Coincidentally, the block and lot number assigned on the county tax map to the property is “Block 4, Lot 20,” emblematic of the international cannabis meme “420.”
The property is located within eyeshot – just to the west – of The Social Leaf, the county’s first recreational cannabis dispensary, which opened in July. The latest property would be located on the opposite side of Route 9, slightly closer to the bridge connecting Toms River Township and South Toms River. Retail cannabis sales are prohibited in all zones in Toms River Township, but are conditionally allowed by its smaller neighbor to the south.
The board approved a site plan that would renovate the existing building and make related site improvements, including paving, traffic, circulation, parking, stalls, signage and ultimately a partial demolition of the existing building, which is in poor condition and appears to have once been the location of an automotive business.
“The renovation will be to allow the use of the structure and site for the permitted use of retail sales, including a cannabis dispensary, which also is a permitted use,” an official notice published by the borough said.
The board approved several minor variances, mostly to accommodate the location of the existing building, including allowing a setback from the highway of 42 feet where 60 is normally required, and the rear setback of 38 feet where 40 is normally required. Another variance allows for 9-foot wide parking spaces where 10-feet is normally required.
STRKEY Properties, according to state tax records, is owned by Sajid Khan, of Freehold. Attempts to contact Khan were unsuccessful.
South Toms River is home to the county’s first dispensary, and is one of the few municipalities in Ocean County that has not prohibited retail sales of cannabis despite being supported for legalization overwhelmingly by voters in a 2020 referendum. Meanwhile, further down Route 9, Waretown (Ocean Township) officials passed an ordinance allowing a medical cannabis dispensary to serve recreational clients as well. In that town, BLOC Dispensary began operating in July serving medical clients only, and gained permission to sell retail cannabis to the general public in late August following a vote by the township council.