PLEASANTVILLE — City Council has approved plans for a medical marijuana dispensary to be built at the former site of The Press of Atlantic City.

During the same Monday meeting at which council approved redevelopment of 11 Devins Lane, it passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of recreational marijuana throughout the city.

James DiNatale, owner of RGC3 LLC, purchased the old Press building on Devins Lane in December. Superior Grow Lab will operate the medicinal marijuana operation on the site.

“When he (DiNatale) proposed the idea to us, all our mouths dropped,” said Mayor Jesse L. Tweedle Sr. during the meeting. “It took a long time for our mouths to close.”

Tweedle and council wanted to make sure residents knew the business is for medical marijuana only.

If opened, Superior Grow would be the second medical marijuana dispensary in Atlantic County. Compassionate Care Foundation opened in Egg Harbor Township in 2013.

The state plans to issue six new licenses to medicinal marijuana growers and dispensaries. The deadline to submit applications is Aug. 31, DiNatale said.

The state will award licenses Nov. 1. Two dispensaries each are planned for North, Central and South Jersey, DiNatale said. Even though it’s estimated there will be hundreds of applicants, it is hoped by the city and DiNatale that Superior Grow Lab will receive one of those licenses.

A 35,000-square-foot building already exists on the site, and DiNatale is proposing an additional 80-by-100-foot building and greenhouse. He also plans to repave the parking lot.

Between now and Nov. 1, DiNatale will put a new roof on and paint the existing 35,000-square-foot building and do site work, he said.

If the application is successful, construction for the outdoor greenhouses would take six to eight months, so medicinal marijuana could begin growing next summer, DiNatale said.

DiNatale made an initial investment of $25,000 to buy The Press site, but it could cost between $8 million and $10 million to build the medicinal marijuana dispensary, including equipment costs, he said.

The operation will be shielded from the rest of the neighborhood by a 10-foot-high fence and trees, DiNatale said.

Forty employees will be needed full time, year-round for the indoor operation. It is believed marijuana crops can be grown at least five times in one year indoors. There also will be an outdoor growth area that will produce product once a year and need 40 employees, but they would be seasonal, DiNatale said.

The operation would be monitored by the state Department of Health, DiNatale said.

“Every single thing you grow will have an audited number,” said George Miller, an Atlantic City-based attorney and president and co-founder of Superior Grow.

Miller said he knew of an instance in which a woman had cancer and could not keep weight on. The use of medicinal marijuana made it easier for her to eat food and maintain her weight, Miller said.

Car Toyz owner James Lin, one of the site’s neighbors, said someone is putting their mind, their money and their investment into making a difference, whether people like the idea or not.

“We might not all agree on it, but at the end of the day, it’s people getting jobs,” Lin said.

During the meeting, Councilman William Christmas asked what Superior Grow would do if it did not receive one of the six medicinal marijuana licenses. DiNatale said the site could also be used as a lumber yard.

Ernest D. Coursey, who represents the city on the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, said he understands economic development, but he is always skeptical.

“You made a commitment. You have to honor your commitment,” said Coursey, speaking to DiNatale and Miller. “We have to be careful. Other communities don’t want it.”

Miller told everyone assembled that everything he and DiNatale promised is in writing with the city.

DiNatale is the current owner of the formerly long-abandoned Lenox China plant on Tilton Road in Galloway Township. The site became home to Barrette Outdoor Living, where he said more than 50 percent of the 400 workers are from Atlantic County, many from Pleasantville.

Tweedle said the city did its legwork to thoroughly examine the plans for the Devins Lane site. He said he hopes the freeholders will show their support for the city landing one of the marijuana licenses with a vote during an upcoming meeting.

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