WATERVILLE — The Planning Board will hold a public hearing next week to discuss appropriate places for, and restrictions on, marijuana-related businesses after an earlier session drew questions and heated discussion.

The hearing, set for Monday, is a continuation of a hearing the board held Feb. 22 at which planning board members and the public debated a proposed ordinance dealing with marijuana dispensaries, cultivation operations and storage facilities. At the Feb. 22 hearing, some members of the public said the proposal was too restrictive on businesses that are allowed by law.

The board is considering the marijuana issue at the request of the City Council, which asked the board to recommend appropriate places for facilities and what restrictions to place on them. Planners would recommend any ordinance rules to the council, which would make the final decision.

City Planner Ann Beverage said the board is studying what other communities are doing regarding marijuana-related facilities.

“This is a matter of the Planning Board having a public hearing so people can express their concerns at the Planning Board level and the Planning Board will recommend to the council,” she said.

The council on Feb. 16 voted 6-0 to adopt a 180-day moratorium on considering applications or permits for medical marijuana related businesses in the city to give city officials time to determine where they should be and what restrictions should apply.

Beverage proposed a draft ordinance that requires such facilities to be at least 250 feet away from a school or place of worship and 250 feet away from residential areas. They also must be at least 1,000 feet away from other medical marijuana-related businesses, according to the proposal. Odors emanating from the facilities must not have a significant effect on abutting properties, they may not be located with other businesses and they may not have marijuana products visible from property exteriors, according to the draft ordinance.

Monday’s meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown.

In other matters, the board will consider a request from Vertical Construction for a final review of its plans to build a 1,728-square-foot Taco Bell at 345 Main St. on the site of the former Bank of America. The board will consider the proposal under the city’s site plan review ordinance.

“The Planning Board can give final approval if the board feels the issues are all addressed,” Beverage said. “But we haven’t heard from the abutters yet. The neighbors could have some concerns.”

The abutting neighbors are Sherwin-Williams, Thompson Volkswagen Audi Mazda and Rebecca Ruff Insurance agency.

“They share sewer and access, so we really don’t know what the neighbors think about this,” Beverage said.

The board will consider an informal pre-application review for a 13,500-square-foot auto body repair shop at the intersection of College Avenue and Crossway Street. The shop, which would be across College Avenue from Huhtamaki, is being proposed by Maurice and Sons.

The board will consider a proposal by Bill Mitchell to rezone 319 Main St. from Commercial-C to Commercial-A so apartments can be constructed in a barn at the rear of the property.

Board members also will discuss appropriate zoning regulations that would help avoid conflicts between commercial and residential development along major roads. Beverage said no votes would be taken on the issue, which is being discussed at the request of some board members.

“A couple of board members talked with me about what the city should be doing to encourage development,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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