Egg Harbor City boat factory could become marijuana facility

Egg Harbor City Council last week approved a resolution authorizing the preparation of a redevelopment plan for the Egg Harbor City Boat Co. building at Philadelphia Avenue and Duerer Street. The building’s owner wants to convert the boatworks to a medical marijuana facility.

EGG HARBOR CITY — A local boat-maker is looking to get into the marijuana business.

City Council last week approved a resolution authorizing the preparation of a redevelopment plan for the Egg Harbor City Boat Co. building at Philadelphia Ave. and Duerer Street.

Council voted 7-1 to approve the resolution, with Councilwoman Carol Kienzle casting the lone negative vote.

The 50,000-square-foot building would be renovated and retrofitted to create a grow facility for the cultivation and processing of medical marijuana, as well as recreational marijuana if the state legalizes it for recreational use, according to city officials and boat company owner Dr. Ira Trocki.

Trocki said the boatbuilding and marijuana operations would share the facility at first, but if the marijuana operation proves successful, he would move the boat operations. A formal redevelopment plan would facilitate approvals for dual use of the site, according to city Planner Tim Michel.

Trocki said the marijuana business would operate under the name Relevant 1 LLC with the majority owner being Dr. Jon Regis, president and CEO of Reliance Medical Group, in which Trocki is a partner. He said they would cultivate and process the product in Egg Harbor City and open a dispensary in Atlantic City, where Mayor Frank Gilliam has expressed an interest in exploring marijuana as an economic driver.

“We planned to open these facilities in communities with a large minority population in order to provide employment opportunities for those in need of jobs,” Trocki said. “We feel this will be a win-win for the community.”

Before any marijuana plants can take root in the city, however, the facility needs to be licensed by the state. New Jersey plans to award six new licenses in November for so-called alternative treatment centers, two each in the northern, southern and central parts of the state. Among the applicants is Superior Grow Lab, which is looking to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana in Pleasantville at the former site of The Press of Atlantic City on Devins Lane. Meanwhile, in Atlantic City, Calvi Electric has an application before the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority seeking to convert a property in the Tourism District to a medical marijuana facility.

The deadline to apply for a state alternative treatment center license is Aug. 31. Interested parties were required to attend a conference in Trenton last week. Trocki said he was among them.

“This is a major opportunity to get this site cleaned up,” Michel said of the Egg Harbor City property. Residents and council members alike have complained over the years about the condition of the site.

City resident Jeanne Williams agreed with Michel's assessment.

“This will be a good thing for the city as long as it’s helpful to people and there is good security,” she said. 

The city's resolution included seven conditions, including the need for full planning and zoning site plan review, the necessity of receiving all state approvals, including licensing and permits for every use on the site, and the need for the developer to receive any and all additional governmental approvals for each and every use.

About 25,000 patients and 1,000 caregivers participate in the medical marijuana program statewide, health officials said last month. Gov. Phil Murphy said 10,000 new patients had signed on since January, many of whom became eligible after the state expanded the program’s list of qualified conditions earlier this year.

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