AUGUSTA — The Planning Board approved the first three proposals for medical marijuana retail stores in the city, but the would-be shop owners still face additional scrutiny from city officials before they’ll be able to open up.

Board members voted in favor of issuing conditional use permits to all three proposed new medical marijuana retail stores, two on Western Avenue and one on Bangor Street.

The trio are the first marijuana retail stores looking to open in Augusta under new medical marijuana rules approved by city councilors earlier this year.

Councilors declined to adopt rules allowing any adult use recreational retail stores, effectively banning them from Augusta and leaving medical marijuana as the only type of retail sales that may take place legally within city limits.

Even with the board’s approval, however, the retail shops must still go through several more steps under the terms of the recently approved licencing process before they can open.

They will have to pass the scrutiny of the city’s police chief, fire chief, a code enforcement officer and health inspector, undergo criminal background checks and submit documentation of their state licensing. In addition, the store owners must demonstrate the facilities have a security system — including 24-hour video surveillance and an alarm system that automatically notifies the police department when it is triggered — and pay a fee of $1,400. The fee would be nearly $3,000 if they also plan to grow, manufacture and test marijuana at the same facility, which none of the applicants winning initial approval Tuesday said they plan to do.

Ultimately the license applications for medical marijuana retail stores, and other related businesses, will also need to be approved by the City Council.

“This is kind of just the first step in the process, something that needs to happen for the license application to be complete,” Betsy Poulin, deputy city planner, said at Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting. “Several city staff will review it and, when that’s complete, it would be sent to the City Council.”

One of the proposed Western Avenue shops, to be called Greenport Cannabis Co., would be at 87 Western Ave., between Pike and Drew streets, in a former home that would have the shop on the lower floor and an apartment above it. The ground floor space was previously occupied by an art gallery. The business would be owned by Ryan Ellis, of Freeport.

Board members debated that proposal at length before approving it, 6-1. Board member Cathy Cobb, who expressed concerns the site may not have enough parking, was the lone vote against the proposal.

A problem for board members deciding on the applications, and the business owners and city staff, was determining just how many customers will come to the medical marijuana shops, which would impact how much parking will be required.

“It looks like everyone is trying to guess how many people will be coming in,” said Alison Nichols, chairwoman of the board.

Based on a medical marijuana store he has been involved with in Damariscotta, Ellis said he anticipates between 20 and 30 customers a day will come to the shop.

Ellis said he targeted that location in part because the city’s new rules — which include a prohibition on any medical marijuana retail stores within 500 feet of religious activities, a state-licensed day care of any size, or educational services such as schools — greatly limited where in the city a store can be located.

“The zoning requirements are incredibly prohibitive, because of the setbacks from things like educational and religious uses,” he said. “So we looked at what’s available. And I can tell you, based on the small business we have, this will fit.

“I think we can manage, especially since nobody really knows exactly how it’s going to go in Augusta,” Ellis added. “I think this will work and I’m willing to do what I can to not disrupt the facade of the community.”

Board members approved the proposal with a condition that will likely require the removal of a ramp that provides access to the building to people with disabilities.

Ellis initially sought a waiver from parking requirements, so he could have four parking spaces instead of the five required by city ordinance. He removed his waiver request, however, after some board members said they could not support the proposal with only four parking spaces.

He said he had hoped to keep the ramp to provide access for people with disabilities, but since it is not a requirement for the business and he would remove it if the board required him to have five parking spaces.

Ward 1 City Councilor Linda Conti expressed concerns about Ellis’s proposal, which she said would be near a new sober house on Western Avenue for people in recovery from substance abuse.

“It’s two doors down from the new sober-living Suboxone clinic, it seems to me like they could be incompatible uses,” said Conti, adding that she doesn’t believe marijuana really has many medical uses.

Ellis noted only patients with medical marijuana cards will be able to purchase marijuana from the shop.

The other two shops’ applications were approved by board members unanimously.

Homegrown of Augusta New England Cannabis Consulting would be at 393 Western Ave., in a former gas station building across from the intersection with Edison Drive that is already home to a wellness retail store selling CBD-based products. The applicant on the proposal, Shanna Souza, of Winthrop, said they plan to add medical marijuana to their already existing shelves in the same shop that now sells CBD products, which are made from hemp plants but don’t contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that provides users with a high.

Board members asked how the building, which has three separate doors, would be kept secure. Souza, a board member of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said the middle door would be locked and the two others would each have a staff member stationed near them. She said if they’re down a staff member for a day, one of their doors would be locked.

The third medical marijuana shop would be at 102 Bangor St., in one of the roughly half-dozen storefronts in the Queen’s Court Plaza, where there is also a Chinese food restaurant, a tattoo and piercing parlor, hair salon and a used items retail store. It would be owned by Eric Maxim, of China, and called Cannamax.

The city’s rules cap the number of medical marijuana retail stores at 15.

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