SKOWHEGAN — With a local ordinance regulating future medical marijuana dispensaries already in place in Skowhegan, town officials in recent months have set their sights on methadone clinics, places where people with narcotic addictions can get treatment.

The original idea was to ban methadone clinics in Skowhegan, Town Manager Christine Almand said Tuesday. When the Maine Municipal Association advised against such a ban, the town attorney proposed changes to the existing Controlled Substance Facilities Ordinance to include methadone clinics, she said.

The Skowhegan Planning Board approved five of those changes Tuesday night, readying the ordinance for an examination by the Board of Selectmen and finally for a public vote at the annual Town Meeting in June.

“What the ordinance does, is that it restricts where one can be located,” Almand said of clinics or dispensaries, neither of which is planned in Skowhegan. “Originally, when methadone clinics were brought up, selectmen met with the Planning Board, which drafted up an ordinance, and when it came back to selectmen, they said they wanted to ban methadone clinics.

“They can’t do that legally.”

Revisions to the ordinance remove a requirement that any proposed building or clinic would have to conform to the town’s entire Site Plan Review Ordinance, as determined by the code enforcement officer, an idea that Almand said she and other town officials did not like.

The board on Tuesday night spelled out which portions of the site plan ordinance a developer would have to abide by for review and inspection by Randy Gray, the town’s code enforcement officer.

In a 4-1 vote, the Planning Board identified five specific sections of the plan that would apply to controlled substance facilities:

• Public safety.

• Waste disposal.

• Access and parking.

• Outdoor lighting.

• Buffers between buildings.

Planning Board member Harvey Austin was the lone dissenter Tuesday night, noting that people might not like having a methadone clinic in Skowhegan, but what is good for one business should be good for all businesses.

Before the vote, board Chairman Ned Goff said public safety and waste disposal are important issues for places such as a methadone clinic.

“I think if we add these five, we have something to fall back on,” Goff said, noting that currently there are no applications for a methadone clinic in Skowhegan. But “in case they do come,” he said, the town will be protected with provisions in place.

A registered facility in Skowhegan can be located only on U.S. Route 201, U.S. Route 2 east of the downtown area and at the Northgate or Southgate industrial parks. Prohibited zones include 1,000 feet from an existing school or any of the town’s so-called “safe zones,” including ballfields on South Factory Street, East Maple Street and the community center. A clinic or marijuana dispensary under the ordinance may not be situated in the shoreland zone, in the flood plain or in a wetland.

The exception to the rule in the original draft of the ordinance is that a facility can be located wholly within the Redington-Fairview General Hospital complex. Town Planner Chris Huck, from Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, said that provision might be eliminated in future drafts of the ordinance.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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