WATERVILLE — City councilors took a first vote Tuesday to adopt a marijuana ordinance that would regulate adult use and medical marijuana facilities in Waterville.

The 5-2 vote followed a discussion about where they may be located and how the rules regulating them would be enforced.

Councilors must take two votes on such an ordinance and will consider taking a final vote at their next meeting, on April 2.

Council Chairman Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, and councilors Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, Meg Smith, D-Ward 3, Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, and Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, voted to approve the ordinance; councilors Phil Bofia, R-Ward 2, and Jay Coelho, D-Ward 5, opposed it.

The proposed ordinance, developed by the city’s Marijuana Study Committee, says the terms of the document shall have the same definition as the state’s state law regulating medical and adult use marijuana.

Waterville’s proposal would require anyone wanting to establish, operate or maintain an adult use or medical marijuana facility to apply for and receive a permit from the city; but before that, he or she would need to obtain conditional approval from the state.

Adult use medical marijuana retail stores would be allowed only in the Commercial B, C, D zones, as well as in general industrial zone districts of the city, according to the ordinance. Adult use and medical marijuana extraction facilities would be allowed only in the general industrial district; adult use and medical marijuana testing facilities would be permitted only in the Commercial B, C and D and general industrial zones; and adult use and medical marijuana cultivation facilities could be situated only in Rural Residential, Commercial C and General Industrial Zone districts, according to the proposal.

They could not be operated within 500 feet of school property lines, places of religious worship or other religious activities, and they would be required to have security surveillance cameras, video and motion detector intrusion systems with audible alarms, a locking safe for storage of marijuana and marijuana products and cash, exterior lighting, deadbolt locks on doors and other requirements.

Dan Bradstreet, director of code enforcement for the city, said Wednesday in an email that the ordinance would keep all types of facilities out of the Commercial-A and Downtown Industrial zones.

“This is an area that some people designate as the ‘downtown area,'” Bradstreet said. “The Marijuana Advisory Committee will most likely be meeting again in the coming days to discuss the possibility of prohibiting any type of facility from operating in the small area of the General Industrial Zone located near the RiverWalk, while still allowing their operation in the greater, General Industrial Zone.”

That zone, he said, includes areas between Webb and Airport roads, areas to the northeast of upper Main Street, areas south-southwest of County Road, and any other smaller pockets designated General Industrial.

Marijuana facilities would be prohibited in residential zones, except for the Rural Residential Zone, where only cultivation would be allowed, according to Bradstreet.

The proposed ordinance would require facilities to be in compliance with city odor nuisance control rules and have signs saying adult use of, or on-site consumption of, marijuana is illegal. Code enforcement officers would be allowed to check adult use and medical marijuana facilities at reasonable times; fire officials would be authorized to annually inspect cultivation and manufacturing facilities; and police would be allowed to inspect cultivation and manufacturing establishments to make sure they are complying with standards for growing, processing and extraction facilities.

The proposed ordinance also says code enforcement officers would be the primary enforcers of the rules.

“Law enforcement officers may at any reasonable time conduct on-site inspections to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and conditions attached to license approvals and shall investigate all complaints of alleged violations of the ordinance,” it says.

Bofia said he thought the proposed ordinance, overall, was well-written, but he had questions about whether such establishments would be allowed downtown, where revitalization efforts are occurring. Bofia said he could not find in the ordinance where marijuana businesses would be prohibited at Head of Falls, for instance.

Mayhew, a member of the marijuana committee, said discussions about marijuana facilities by committee members, councilors and the public revealed that people prefer they be on the outskirts of downtown, rather than in downtown. He said committee members thought there needed to be one particular place where facilities were not allowed.

“That doesn’t mean that, further down the line, we can’t make amendments to this ordinance,” he said.

Bofia said the ordinance does not specify they would be prohibited in the downtown. Another issue raised Tuesday was about whether police should have authority to do random inspections of medical facilities in light of patient privacy issues. The committee may decide to make changes to the proposed ordinance before the council considers a second vote April 2.

Tate, also a member of the marijuana committee, headed by Chairwoman Jennifer Bergeron, said the panel studied marijuana ordinances in other towns before developing the city’s proposal. She thinks it reflects the city’s willingness to be open to marijuana businesses, while at the same time ensuring they are located in appropriate places. Mayhew said the committee spent a lot of time on the proposal, going over every line for two to three months with advice from police Chief Joseph Massey and Bradstreet.

“I do support this ordinance,” he said.

In other matters, councilors voted 7-0 to authorize the city manager, in cooperation with the police chief, to issue temporary parking permits to Yardgoods Center that will allow customers attending knitting classes there during certain hours to park longer than the current two-hour limit. The permits, to expire June 1, would be for 10 a.m. to 12:45 and 2 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Wednesdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Fridays.

Issuing the permits would provide a temporary solution to a problem that has occurred with parking near Yardgoods Center, located on The Concourse, during revitalization efforts.

Also Tuesday, Mayor Nick Isgro said that in the past week he made some controversial comments and they were not meant to be council-related.

“I was not speaking on behalf of the council here,” he said.

Asked what the issue was about that prompted his controversial comments, he replied it was about “illegal immigration and concerns about infectious disease.”

 

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

 

 


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