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Atlantic City Council approves cannabis zone, more ATV restrictions

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Scenes from the area planned for the new green zone being developed for cannabis-related businesses in Atlantic City, September 13, 2022. This is a south-facing view of Pacific Avenue.

ATLANTIC CITY — City Council on Wednesday adopted ordinances to create a “green zone” where cannabis businesses will be allowed and to fine gas stations and storage facilities who provide service to illegally ridden all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes. The vote was 7-1 on the green zone ordinance, with only Councilman Aaron “Sporty” Randolph voting against it.

The proposed zone runs from Boston to Maryland avenues along both sides of Atlantic and Pacific avenues, and includes the Orange Loop district running from Pacific Avenue to just shy of the Boardwalk between New York and Tennessee avenues.

It covers much, but not all, of the Tourism District.

On Tuesday, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority board approved the green zone plan. The CRDA oversees development in the Tourism District.

The zone does not go within 200 feet of the Boardwalk, according to Lance Landgraf, director of planning and development for the CRDA.

It is consistent with the adopted master plan and includes design standards for the cannabis businesses, Landgraf said. It also does not include residential neighborhoods, he said. The amendment would make all classes of state-licensed cannabis businesses a permitted use within the zone.

At its August meeting, council voted 5-4 to introduce an ordinance to fine gas stations and storage facilities for providing services to illegally ridden off-road vehicles.

The adopted ordinance allows those businesses to avoid fines if their staff calls the police and reports the illegal riders within an hour.

Those who voted “no” last month said they were concerned it would put workers in gas stations at risk of violence if they refuse to sell gas to large groups of riders.

The ordinance was adopted Wednesday by a 7-2 vote, with Council President George Tibbitt and 6th Ward Councilman Jesse Kurtz deciding to support it after hearing that acting police Chief James Sarkos had reached out to the five gas stations in the city and got the support of owners and/or managers for the ordinance.

Second Ward councilwoman LaToya Dunston and at-large Councilman Bruce Weekes continued to oppose the ordinance, saying it put too much responsibility on gas station workers. Sarkos said the Police Department will provide signs to be installed in businesses that make it clear the law does not allow the sale of gasoline to illegally ridden vehicles.

That will allow staff at gas stations and storage facilities to shift the responsibility to the city when refusing service to illegally ridden vehicles, Sarkos said.

Off-road vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes, are not legal on public roads anywhere in the state, but they are being ridden in large groups on city roads, and the riders often ignore traffic laws, endangering themselves and others.

At its July meeting, council passed another ordinance setting rules for confiscating and destroying ATVs and dirt bikes illegally ridden on city streets and rights-of-way.

Several other municipalities, such as Pleasantville and Absecon, have passed ordinances to confiscate and destroy illegally ridden off-road vehicles, and to fine gas stations that provide fuel to them when they are illegally ridden to the business.

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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