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Westfield May Revamp Liquor Laws, Limit Medical Marijuana Dispensary Locations

Jackie Lieberman

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 • 9:43pm

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield should raise its annual liquor license fees, per state guidelines, the code review and town property committee told other members of the town council at a conference meeting Tuesday.  It also recommended deleting certain limitations on premises holding conditional restaurant licenses to allow greater flexibility in their bar service operations, which could affect five Westfield restaurants.

Under the same chapter of code regarding alcoholic beverages, it recommended changing the limitation on the number of musicians who can entertain at any given time from one to five.

In anticipation of possible medical marijuana dispensaries opening in Westfield, the committee asked the council to consider restricting the location of these centers to C-commercial zoning districts and imposing other requirements, including hours of operation and buffers.

“We do not want a medical marijuana dispensary in our downtown or near schools,” explained the committee’s chair, James Foerst.

The recommendations are part of the committee’s efforts, with the help of Town Attorney Russell Finestein and Town Administrator Jim Gildea, to update an antiquated town code that has not been reviewed in some time, according to Foerst.

Among other recommendations made to the council:

  • Requiring permits for construction, repair and removal of curbs. (This requirement already exists with regard to sidewalks and retaining walls.)
  • Requiring construction of new curbs to consist of granite block curb or Portland cement concrete.
  • Requiring repairs to existing curbs to be of the same material as used in the existing curbing.
  • Clarifying that it is a resident’s responsibility to remove diseased or dead trees on private property and to remove or trim any trees or hedges that obstruct the view from the public right-of-way.
  • Clarifying the definition of “blighted condition” (in reference to exterior property maintenance).
  •  Requiring persons who are filming movies anywhere in Westfield to obtain permits, meet all present requirements (such as proof of insurance) and pay fees to cover the costs to the town—in particular, traffic control costs.

These recommendations are the first in a series that will take place over approximately the next two years, as the committee reviews all 37 chapters of the town code. Most likely, the town council will adopt changes throughout that time, then adopt the revamped code in its entirety at the end of the process, according to Finestein.

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