AUGUSTA — Medical marijuana caregivers hoping to operate from their homes soon might need to find a new plan to do business in the city.

City councilors meet Thursday not only to consider extending the city’s moratoriums temporarily banning recreational marijuana retail sales and medical marijuana retail stores, but also banning — temporarily for now — medical marijuana caregivers from selling to patients in all residential zoning districts in Augusta.

For months, councilors and a subcommittee formed after Maine residents voted to legalize marijuana in 2016, have debated how Augusta should regulate both medical and recreational marijuana production and distribution.

Last week councilors asked city staff members and an attorney to draft proposed zoning ordinance changes to ban medical marijuana caregivers from operating in the city’s residential zoning districts. A majority of councilors indicated they want to ban marijuana sales from residential neighborhoods but allow it in some commercial zones in the city.

Matt Nazar, development director, said in a memo to councilors Tuesday the city will need more time to come up with rules banning medical marijuana caregivers — many of whom sell the cannabis they grow to patients out of their homes — from operating in residential neighborhoods.

He said the city can adopt a moratorium, however, banning medical marijuana caregivers not already operating by Oct. 11, from selling to their patients in residential zoning districts in the city. The proposed new moratorium would give officials 180 days to come up with longer-term rules.

Nazar also suggested the city consider extending a moratorium, passed in May, on the establishment of any new medical marijuana caregiver retail stores and recreational marijuana stores, which he said is about to expire.

Councilors are scheduled to consider those marijuana moratorium proposals at their 7 p.m. meeting Thursday in the council chamber at Augusta City Center.

Councilors also will consider some unrelated proposed zoning changes. One would allow conference and event centers downtown where currently — and somewhat inexplicably — they are now not an allowed use.

“It’s allowed in all the abutting districts, ironically,” said Keith Luke, deputy development director. “I think it either wasn’t contemplated at the time, or the nature of the use of downtown office space didn’t anticipate this as something that could happen or might happen in the future. And it has now presented itself as an opportunity.”

Luke said the request to add conference and events centers as an allowed use downtown came from city resident Heather Pouliot, president of the Augusta Downtown Alliance. She expressed interest in using the 349 Water St. downtown building owned by she and her husband, Rep. Matthew Pouliot, R-Augusta, for business functions and conferences.

The proposed ordinance change would limit the size of conference and event centers to 20,000 square feet or less.

Mayor David Rollins said last week the proposed change seems pretty straightforward.

Councilors also are scheduled to consider a proposal to allow business and professional associations and educational services to locate within the Regional Commercial zoning district, in response to a request from a Whitten Road property owner who wishes to conduct training for workers on how to use a crane at a site there where the zoning doesn’t currently allow educational services.

The Planning Board reviewed both the conference and events center and educational services proposed zoning changes, and voted to unanimously to recommend them, in both cases, as conditional uses in the requested zones.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.