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The Wrap: ParkMobile, $1 Billion in Cannabis Sales Projected, County Line Ballot Ruling

The Wrap: ParkMobile, $1 Billion in Cannabis Sales Projected, County Line Ballot Ruling

By Herald Staff

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April 15-21

ParkMobile

Recently Cape May City conducted an analysis of the ParkMobile contracts in force in the county municipalities that use the app for paid parking. The purpose was to see if the city could get a better deal from the app company. Cape May even went out to bid to test the competitive waters. In the end the city stayed with ParkMobile not because of a better deal, although there were some savings for the city at the expense of the parking public, but because it is hard to leave a virtual monopoly.

ParkMobile is an app used throughout the county. It is also the app used in the major areas of Pennsylvania and New York that are home to many of Cape May’s visitors. Founded in 2008, ParkMobile now has over 50 million users in the United States and Canada. Are there other apps? Yes. But is there a greater likelihood that visitors to Cape May have ParkMobile on their phone, preloaded with car and credit card info? Yes again.

Depending on the individual town’s contract, the app can be expensive for the town, or the parker, or both. There have also been problems with implementation of app-driven paid parking. County residents are familiar with the first-year problems experienced in Stone Harbor. In February residents and business owners of Island Park on Long Island flooded a local governing body meeting with complaints and dire warnings over the app’s implementation in the town.

Cape May Mayor Zack Mullock says the city will keep other options open for those who have difficulties with the app. City Police Chief Dekon Fashaw has developed a flyer to educate the public on when and how to use the app. It’s a brave new world that some, especially seniors, are slow to enter.

$1 Billion in Cannabis Sales Projected

New Jersey’s cannabis market generated over $800 million in sales in 2023 and projects to hit $1 billion in sales in 2024. The sales figures combine medicinal and adult-use retail stores. The website of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission now lists more than 120 cannabis dispensaries in the state. Every county hosts some version of a retail cannabis establishment with the exception of Salem, where two have been approved but are not yet operational.

The number of recreational cannabis stores is growing rapidly, with no clear projection on where the numbers will level off. Cape May County has one open store, but others will join the West Cape May venture soon, including the INSA store located in Middle Township at the gateway to Avalon. Camden County leads all New Jersey counties with 15 operational retail stores.

The state and its municipalities all see dollar signs when they consider the allowable taxes on the fast-growing operations.

Those of us of a certain age remember when playing the numbers was illegal. One can now play the Pick 6 almost anywhere. Betting on the big game with the local bookie was also illegal, and now there’s an app for that. Gambling? Online casinos are at your fingertips. For some the argument is if you can tax it, why not legalize it?

The Regulatory Commission website has a large picture of an open sign just before the site lists the many establishments where cannabis can be legally purchased. Cannabis sales have produced over $62 million in tax revenue since recreational sales started in 2022. There is no tax on medicinal cannabis sales.

County Line Ballot Ruling

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that the Democratic Party may not use the “county line” ballot format in the June 4 primary election. The ruling puts yet another nail in the coffin of New Jersey’s ballot format, which many argue favors party bosses in the Garden State’s counties. The Republican ballots may still use the county line format, but only because the District Court judge did not have a challenger to the Republican ballot.

In affirming the District Court ruling against the county line ballot, the three-judge appellate panel held that “the county line system is discriminatory – it picks winners and punishes those who are not endorsed or, because of their political views, want to disassociate from certain endorsed candidates.”

Following the ruling, the Democratic ballots in the June primary show all candidates listed under the specific office they are seeking. Republican ballots, still using the county line format, list county party-endorsed candidates in one column.

A Rutgers Today post says this is “the case that could transform politics in New Jersey.” The Rutgers piece goes on to state: “New Jersey’s primary election ballots are designed so as to provide a government-sponsored substantial advantage to the party-endorsed candidates over their opponents.”

Supporters of the court ruling say that this “substantial advantage” gives power to local party bosses. The Rutgers piece summarizes the expected impact on local political machines when it states, “The end of the county line will greatly diminish their ability to control who is elected.”

Happenings

North Wildwood introduced an ordinance to regulate beach umbrellas due to severe erosion. Feedback is divided, with some supporting fair access to the beach and others citing safety or government overreach concerns. The proposed ordinance outlines size limits and placement rules. A public hearing is set for May 7.

Cape May County school districts are grappling with funding cuts from the state and rising property values, resulting in budget shortfalls and potential tax increases. Efforts to reform the funding formula and provide short-term aid are underway, but long-term solutions are needed.

At the State of the Island event hosted by the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce, mayors discussed projects and challenges: North Wildwood is focusing on beach erosion and boardwalk improvements, West Wildwood on flood mitigation despite budget constraints, and Wildwood on boardwalk renovations and public safety. Wildwood Crest’s mayor couldn’t attend.

A fire in Ocean City displaced three residents on Monday, April 15. Firefighters contained it within half an hour, with no civilian injuries. The cause is under investigation, but wind conditions aided its spread.

Three individuals in Wildwood were arrested for drug-related offenses after a search warrant uncovered cocaine, pills, cash, and drug paraphernalia. They are currently detained at the Cape May County Correctional Center.

Cape May County saw a 16% year-over-year increase in home prices in February 2024, leading New Jersey. Nationally, home prices rose by 5.5%.

Jonathan Duerr, 30, apprehended during a burglary investigation in Wildwood on April 14, had active warrants and was found with drugs, weapons, and a BB gun. He faces multiple charges and is detained at the Cape May County Correctional Center.

Donald Trump will hold a rally in Wildwood on May 11. The visit was confirmed on his website. The event will take place on the city beach. City officials are excited about the boost it will bring to the summer season.

Seagrove Avenue residents want speed humps to curb speeding but have yet to hear back from Lower Township officials. The township is considering options like increased police presence to address the issue.

Prep work has kicked off for a road preservation project on Routes 47, 109, and 147 in Cape May County. Crews are replacing old striping and reflective markers. Paving is set to start in late April or early May and should take about a month, with advance notice of lane closures provided.

Cape May City Council approved an updated agreement to provide municipal court services to Cape May Point. The deal includes an initial payment of $15,540 and continues until Dec. 31, 2025. Cape May Point will also share 25% of its municipal court revenue with Cape May City.

Lt. j.g. Forest Wan serves aboard the USS Howard, honoring his friend’s dream by being a Navy officer. His days are filled with watch duties and ship operations, balanced with exploring Japan during shore leave.

Cape May City Council is considering limits on artificial turf, permitting it only for miniature golf courses and certain city projects. Existing turf can be maintained but not expanded, and must be replaced with natural landscaping when it wears out. A decision is expected in May.

A school bus carrying Ocean City Intermediate School students caught fire on the Garden State Parkway in Upper Township on April 17. All students and the driver safely evacuated the bus, and there were no injuries reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Police and the county Fire Marshal’s Office.

Spout Off of the Week

North Wildwood – I am with NW on limiting the size of items used on the beach. It should have been done years ago. The bottom line is there is NO BEACH. They should ban vehicles and dogs from the north end. I have seen dogs in the roped in area to protect the birds. Wildwood and Wildwood Crest has the North Wildwood sand, you can even park on Wildwood beach. You pay to park to the beach. Just Uber there and keep the sand out of you car.

Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com. 

Spout Off

North Wildwood – Great job by those resurfacing North Wildwood Boulevard.

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Cape May – The town should lower our taxes instead of spending unnecessary tax money on improvements. Does the Cove Pavilion need to be that fancy? You know it will get hard ware and tear.

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Wildwood Crest – I have a challenge for those people who always watch Fox News or CNN: Watch the one that you don't usually watch for an entire day without watching the other. Then ask yourself which station…

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