Boothbay likely to vote on marijuana ordinance in November

Retail and growing limited to Industrial Park and C-2 zone
Posted:  Friday, July 14, 2017 - 7:45am

The Boothbay Planning Board expects to have a recreational marijuana ordinance ready for a November vote. The board began working on an ordinance last month. Chairman Alan Bellows updated selectmen July 12 on the planning board’s progress in drafting an ordinance reflecting a change in state statute.

The board reached a consensus that such an ordinance should reflect the “will of the people” based on last November’s statewide referendum and local results. Maine voters approved legalized retail recreational marijuana and growing the plant for commercial use, 378,288 to 375,668. Boothbay residents mirrored statewide results by approving the referendum 1,088 to 990.

A second workshop, set for 6 p.m. Thursday July 20, in the municipal building, will focus on the five major uses allowed by the new law and defining appropriate uses and placing them in appropriate settings around town. The board will discuss performance standards for marijuana business operations such as appropriate lighting , security, odor, traffic, and fire safety. The proposed ordinance’s final draft must be completed by Sept. 27 for voter consideration this November.

Bellows expects the retail marijuana ordinance will be fairly restrictive on retail sales and commercial growth. “We decided it would be easier to loosen things up in the future rather than tighten them in the future,” he said.

The proposed ordinance will regulate retail sales, growing, product processing, laboratory testing, and transportation. The planning board wants to prohibit marijuana-based businesses from operating in heavily populated areas. A proposed ordinance will likely be limited to the C-2 zoning district and Industrial Park.

Selectman Steve Lewis believes an ordinance which permits commercial sale and growing would probably be approved by voters.

“There is not the same stigma attached to marijuana use as there was 20-30 years ago. I think that shows in how the town voted last November,” he said. “What you probably will see is we’ll be back here in two or three years having the same discussion. This allows us a chance to see what works and what doesn’t.”

In other action, Town Manager Dan Bryer reported Camoin & Associates would tour the Boothbay peninsula July 14 as part of the firm’s research in drafting a regional master plan. Last month, the Joint Economic Development Committee selected the firm to study the region’s economic assets in developing a long range plan. Camoin will take a 90-minute van tour of the region with JEDC members. The firm will also separately interview Bryer and Boothbay Harbor Town Manager Tom Woodin.

“The tour is so they can get a flavor of the region,” Bryer said. “This is very exciting. It’s a big undertaking for us developing a regional master plan but it’s an important step in our economic future.”

Bryer reported the master plan would include recommendations on the region’s infrastructure, downtown development, affordable workforce housing, potential tax increment finance districts, and other developmental projects based on community need.

The selectmen also authorized Bryer to sign an agreement allowing Fairpoint Communications three easements to install 18 utility poles. Fairpoint will install the poles as part of the Route 27 Redevelopment Project. The selectmen will meet next at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26 in the municipal building.