Several West Amwell residents oppose converting vacant church into cannabis growing facility
There is a controversy brewing in a rural Hunterdon County town over a plan to convert a vacant church into a marijuana growing facility.
“You go outside right now, you hear crickets; you hear birds; you hear wildlife. You hear nothing. You hear the wind and the leaves,” says Meghan Hudson, a West Amwell resident and candidate for the town committee.
West Amwell residents say that they fear that the atmosphere of their quiet town will change if the church building that has sat vacant on Rock Road West for six years is turned into a state-of-the-art, 29,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation facility.
“It’s not why people come to live in West Amwell. And not what they expect when they’ve been here many years,” says Linda Meir, who owns Wood Meir Farm with her husband Bruce.
Plans show that the building would have a 15-foot-tall sound wall to muffle the noise from dozens of HVAC systems that would be used to keep the marijuana and the building climate-controlled.
“It may very well be noisy, and it may very well smell,” Meir says.
There are no sewers in the area, and Meir and others are concerned all the water used to grow marijuana could overload the building’s septic system or pollute wetlands. Meir and her husband are suing the Hunterdon County Health Department.
“And so I think a lot of residents are concerned about well water overall in terms of like the far-reaching community and I think the neighbors right next door are more concerned about their quality of life,” says Hudson.
Hudson is one of the founders of Save the Amwells, a group that resists the marijuana site. Hudson is running for the township committee as a Democrat.
“I don't think there's anything wrong with a cultivation facility,” Hudson says. “We don't have resources to do any kind of industrial regardless of its widgets or cannabis.”
An attorney for applicant GMNJ Properties did not respond to a request for comment.