FAIRFIELD — The Town Council will be updating an existing ordinance to prohibit vaping and marijuana consumption at parks, playgrounds and other recreation areas in town at its Wednesday night meeting.
Councilors will also discuss a proposed all-terrain vehicle trail extension on the Norridgewock Road, as well as repealing an unnecessary ordinance.
Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said the town already has an ordinance that prohibits tobacco use in these public areas, which includes the Water Street playground, the Fairfield Athletic Complex on Industrial Road and Western Avenue, the Mill Island Park and Monument Park near the Lawrence Public Library. Flewelling said the ordinance was adopted in 2002 and underwent some minor revisions in 2014.
Since that time, she said the popularity of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers have increased, and voters across the state approved legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 this past November.
“We try very hard to make sure parks and playground areas stay smoke free,” Flewelling said.
All these areas are drug-free zones, Flewelling said. The prohibition also includes adjacent sidewalks and parking lots and High Street between Monument Park and Fairfield Primary School.
The council will only discuss the updates to the ordinance at its Wednesday meeting. Following that, the proposal will go to a public hearing at their next meeting, after which the council will likely vote on the issue.
According to the proposed ordinance, those found in violation by a police officer will be issued a verbal warning. After that warning, a citation will be issued for the offender to show up in court. If that person fails to show for his or her court date, a fine of $50 will be imposed.
Councilors will also discuss a proposed ATV access route on Route 139. This discussion comes about a month after the council voted to support a different access route of just over a mile on Route 23. Both proposals came from the Central Maine ATV Club based in Fairfield.
The Route 139 proposal calls for a route of more than half a mile from the Big Apple Store on Norridgewock Road almost to Pirate Lane. Flewelling said this latest proposal seeks to continue improving connectivity on the trail system. If the council backs this latest proposal, Flewelling would again write a letter of recommendation from the town to be sent to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which is in charge of approving ATV route permits. Flewelling sent a recommendation for the previous proposal last month and said state approval has yet to come.
Finally, councilors will discuss repealing a moratorium ordinance regarding subdivisions, multi-unit residences, mobile home parks and condominiums of three or more units, which was enacted in 1987. The ordinance states that there had been “substantial increases in land development for residential purposes and in population” over the preceding five years, and these were expected to continue on that course “due to the lack of housing stock” in the area. It stated these factors have strained the town’s ability “to cope with the demand for essential public services to accommodates its citizens as illustrated by the critical shortage of space in the school system.”
It goes on to state that the town’s comprehensive plan had not been updated since 1984 and had been adopted without a land use section and was obsolete.
Since that time, Flewelling said the town has a new comprehensive plan and has redone its land use ordinances. She said the moratorium ordinance was essentially dissolved, but required formal repeal. Flewelling said the ordinance didn’t really have a sunset provision and is “no longer pertinent.”
She said this is an ongoing effort by the town to go through ordinances for housekeeping.
Colin Ellis — 861-9253