Zoning changes proposed to regulate recreational marijuana businesses go to voters at the Manchester annual Town Meeting on Thursday.

The Planning Board proposes to add new provisions to the town’s land use and development ordinance to specify where recreational marijuana-related enterprises could be located in Manchester.

The proposal outright bans any marijuana social clubs, where patrons could use the drug, throughout town. But it allows marijuana cultivation, processing and manufacturing, testing, and retail sales and distribution in at least some zones in town, with varying levels of review of each required by the Planning Board.

And a separate proposal specifies that recreational marijuana businesses would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of a school, 750 feet of a church, or 1,000 feet of a park or playground.

“The town is trying to be proactive,” E. Patrick Gilbert, town manager, said of the proposed marijuana regulations. “I urge people to pass this. If not, it sort of leaves everything wide open. The Planning Board worked diligently on this. I think it’s a good ordinance.”

The annual Town Meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Manchester Elementary School.

One article would ban the use of pesticides, other than substances that are organic, natural, or that have been declared exempt by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, on town-owned lands, such as parks and ballfields.

The ordinance would not apply to what citizens do on their own land.

Gilbert said the company that currently maintains the town’s fields already uses a pesticide that is in compliance with the proposed new ordinance regulating pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use on town property.

Another of the 50 warrant articles would ban the commercial removal and resale of water from an aquifer in the northeast quadrant of town, generally in the Summerhaven area. Water in that area would only be allowed to be used on-site, for residential purposes.

And proposed changes to the existing ordinance regulating road addressing would tighten rules for road-naming.

Gilbert said the changes would require there to be some compelling reason to change a road name, and if a road name is changed, the cost for the change, such as sign replacement, would be paid by whoever requested the change.

Most of the warrant articles are for spending items that are part of the proposed town budget for the coming year.

The $1.8 million town budget is up about $25,000, or 1.3 percent, over the current year’s budget, which Gilbert said was the first increase sought by the town in six years.

He said the increase is because of a number of smaller increases in multiple budget lines, including salaries for town workers, an estimated 11 percent increase in health insurance costs, and some new expenses including $9,000 to repair the tennis courts and $16,000 to put aside money to make repairs that will be needed at Cobbossee Dam.

Gilbert said increased revenues, including a boost in excise tax revenues, will likely offset the proposed $25,000 increase in town spending.

The tax rate, currently $16.40 per $1,000 of value, will likely increase, Gilbert said, though the exact amount can’t be determined until other factors, including the total town valuation, are determined.

Manchester’s $4.8 million share of the $17.2 million Maranacook Area Schools Regional School Unit 38 budget is up nearly $300,000 over the current year.

With voter approval, selectmen could use up to $100,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance account, made up of funds unspent in previous years, to help fund the budget and limit the amount of new money that would come from taxpayers this year.

Gilbert said there is currently about $1.3 million in that account and $100,000 could be taken from it and still leave the town with enough money in the account to, as recommended by an accountant, cover three to four months of town operating expenses in case emergency funds are needed.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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