WATERVILLE — The City Council on Wednesday voted to appoint two councilors to the Marijuana Study Committee and authorized the fire chief to issue mutual aid agreements with neighboring fire departments for fire and rescue services.

About 50 people, including a class of social studies students from Waterville Senior High School, turned out for the meeting, held in the Chace Community Forum on the first floor of Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St.

The council voted unanimously to appoint Councilors Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, and Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, to the marijuana panel, established in September to study current state law on all aspects of marijuana cultivation, distribution, sale, medical uses and other uses to determine if and how the city will add more conditions to the terms of marijuana-related activity.

Jennifer Bergeron is the committee’s chairwoman. Other members are Councilor Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2; Robert Vear; Luc Duplessie; Tom Ferris; and Anthony George, with Dan Bradstreet, the city’s code enforcement officer, and City Manager Michael Roy serving as ex-officio, or nonvoting, members.

The city now has a moratorium on the sale of recreational marijuana at retail establishments. Councilors last year voted to prohibit retail sales in the business district.

In other matters Wednesday, councilors voted 6-0 to authorize fire Chief Shawn Esler to execute three-year mutual aid agreements with surrounding municipalities for fire and rescue services. Esler has said at fire scenes recently that his department is understaffed, posing a dangerous situation. The council approved the request Wednesday quickly and with no discussion.

The council also voted to extend a lease with Gizos Energy LLC, which wants to develop, build and operate a solar photovoltaic facility on city-owned land on the Runser property next to the city-owned airport, across Webb Road.

Frederick “Rick” Fischer, of Fischer Financial Services at 315 Main St., requested the council rezone his property from Commercial-B and Residential-B to Commercial-A in order to place the entire parcel in the same zone and eliminate building setback requirements as a potential impediment to redevelopment, according to the proposal. The council approved the request unanimously and must take a second, final vote on the matter. The Planning Board on Oct. 22 voted to recommend the council approve the rezoning.

Councilors also voted unanimously to approve a request from Philip Roy and John Goodine to rezone 257 and 259 Main St. and 11 Hillside Ave. from Residential-C to Commercial-A. They are requesting the change to reflect actual current use of the properties and make them salable for commercial use if someone decides to redevelop them, according to the proposal. The two parcels abutting Main Street have been used commercially for many decades. The Planning Board on Oct. 22 recommended the council approve the rezoning. The council must take another vote on the request for it to be finalized.

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Philip Roy, owner of Grondin Certified Cleaners at 259 Main St., said at the October meeting that he and Goodine, who owns Elm City Photo at 257 Main, had discussed the fact that it is unusual their properties are zoned residential when for 70 years, commercial operations have been on those sites. They have no plans for the properties now but are trying to envision uses for the future, according to Philip Roy.

The Planning Board may only recommend zone changes; the council makes final decisions on zoning.

Councilors on Wednesday also voted to reject a bid received for a foreclosed property at 59 High St. The city advertised the property for sale, saying bids were due Oct. 10. The city received only one bid, the amount of which does not cover the amount of property taxes due on the property. The city recommended the council reject the bid and go out to bid again.

Roy, the city manager, described the condition of the property Wednesday as “very, very rough,” and said taxes owed are now a little more than $5,800.

“It was foreclosed on in February and the owners basically disappeared and the taxes were not paid for three years,” Roy said.

The council appointed Cynthia Pearl civil constable, a position she has held three years. Her new term will expire Nov. 7, 2019.

The community notes section of the council agenda, which usually appears at the top of the agenda, was on Wednesday the next-to-last item, before a regular item listed as (city) manager’s report. Often, many people speak during community notes, which can last several minutes. At press time, speakers were starting to line up at the podium.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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