OAKLYN – A long-barren commercial site may eventually see a marijuana business grow there now that a short legal fight is over.
But, it won’t be the cannabis company originally hoping to put down roots at 1 White Horse Pike.
The property owner, DSHC Exchange, of Plainsboro, had accused the borough of an illegal “land grab” and went to court to snuff out an eminent domain effort.
A Camden County Superior Court judge dismissed the case on Oct. 30 with the assent of Oaklyn and DSHC Exchange after Oaklyn extinguished condemnation procedures.
“The Borough withdrew that designation after a potential buyer for this property decided they no longer wanted to pursue the property,” Mayor Greg Brandley explained recently. “The Borough of Oaklyn would like to see this property redeveloped and bring in a new business to town at this site.”
On the legal sidelines in the litigation was Uncle Beez Greeneryz LLC, a startup cannabis retailer that both sides had hoped would develop small parcel of concrete and asphalt overlooking Newton Lake. The site actively was used last in 2004 by Burger King, with the restaurant finally razed in 2012.
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Attorney Timothy Duggan represented DSHC Exchange and confirmed Uncle Beez no longer was interested in the site.
“That’s a little disappointing for us because the township came in and said, ‘Hey. We want to take it for the redevelopment project. We’re not taking it to give it to a private buyer,’” Duggan said. “So, when the private buyer walks, they walk. Right?”
Duggan said his client hopes to market the site to another cannabis retailer, or any commercial interest if necessary.
DSHC Exchange had bought the site in June 2021 through a tax foreclosure sale. Uncle Beez started leasing it in September 2021, as it moved to obtain local and state business approvals.
Duggan said negotiations had started to sell the property to Uncle Beez, but stalled over the $900,000 asking price.
In April, Duggan said, council named Uncle Beez as the official “redeveloper” of the site. A month later, council asked the Planning Board to determine whether the property was eligible under New Jersey law to be declared an “area in need of redevelopment.” The board concluded it was.
DSHC Exchange sued to block and reverse council’s move for condemnation, arguing state law was not being followed.
“And I’m really proud of my clients to stand up for their property rights and say, ‘This isn’t right, and we’re going to fight you on it,’ Duggan said. “And they won. It’s just crazy.”
Joe Smith is a N.E. Philly native transplanted to South Jersey 36 years ago, keeping an eye now on government in South Jersey. He is a former editor and current senior staff writer for The Daily Journal in Vineland, Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, and the Burlington County Times.
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