HALLOWELL — Once the state figures out the licensing procedure for adult-use marijuana, Hallowell will be open for commercial cannabis establishments to set up shop.

The City Council confirmed a series of changes that accommodate marijuana establishments in the city’s ordinances unanimously following a public hearing and a series of final readings Tuesday, laying down a city-specific framework for how to obtain a license and where shops can and cannot be.

There was no public comment during the hearing nor any comment from councilors during the agenda items, aside from motions and seconds.

The ordinance was drafted back in August by a Marijuana Task Force appointed by Mayor Mark Walker.

The types of establishments in the ordinance are cannabis manufacturing facilities, cannabis retail stores, cannabis testing facilities, indoor cannabis cultivation facilities and outdoor cannabis cultivation facilities.

The ordinance also introduces “Controlled Environment Agriculture” as a permitted use in some district, although that is not pot-specific.

A maximum of two licenses will be given for retail stores in downtown Hallowell, and no other type of marijuana establishment is allowed in that district. A change made ahead of the meeting removed retail cannabis stores from the Stevens School Planned Development District — or Stevens Commons. Retail stores are allowed as conditional uses in other districts and as permitted uses in other business districts.

Code Enforcement Officer Doug Ide said in August that it could be dangerous to have manufacturing facilities near concentrations of people, which is why it was not included in some districts with high populations.

“Manufacturing of marijuana requires chemicals or lots of pressure,” he said. “People kind of don’t want them near anywhere else.”

Outdoor cultivation is allowed as a permitted use only in the Rural-Farm District, but conditional uses include product manufacturing, retail stores, controlled environment agriculture and indoor cultivation.

Any marijuana establishment needs a license from the city.

The ordinance also lays out a rule for personal outdoor cultivation of pot; it must be set back 50 linear feet from any abutting lot line.

A cannabis business establishment of any kind must be “1,000 linear feet from any lot line on which the business establishment is located to nearest the lot line of a public school, a private school, or a public recreational facility,” such as a ball field or a playground.

Exempt “public recreational facilities” are the Kennebec River Rail Trail, Granite City Park, Vaughan Field, and a small park on the corner of Second Street and Union Street.

Only outdoor cannabis cultivation facilities are allowed in the Rural-Farm district as a permitted use; and cannabis retail stores, cannabis product manufacturing facilities and indoor cannabis cultivation facilities are allowed as conditional uses.

There are two medical marijuana establishments in Hallowell, Cold Brook Cannabis on Greenville Street and the Cannabis Healing Center on Water Street. Both would have to apply for retail licenses if interested, but Cold Brook Cannabis is not subject to limits on retail stores because it is outside of the downtown district. There are two other storefronts downtown where business operators are looking to secure licenses, according to city officials.

Cannabis Healing Center’s owner Derek Wilson said in August that his business would look to transition into selling retail marijuana when licensing structure is finalized. He said the customer pool would be much larger.

In the event that more than two qualified applicants put in for licenses, a lottery would decide who receives the licenses. Applicants must submit a sketch plan with their application. Licenses must be renewed annually and cost $250. That fee would be doubled for a “late or after-the-fact application and termination of a license would cost $50.”

The ordinance includes a claw-back provision which could take licenses away from licensees if they do not make progress toward opening within 90 days. One 180 day extension could be awarded by the code enforcement officer if substantial progress was made.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

 

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