WATERVILLE — The Planning Board on Monday will consider making a recommendation to the City Council about whether to rezone part of 475 Kennedy Memorial Drive to allow an adult-use marijuana store to open there once state rules regarding adult-use marijuana are issued.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Chace Community Forum at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St.

Remington Street Properties LLC is requesting the council rezone only the front part of the property from Commercial A to Commercial C to allow for the store.

The building on the property is the site of the former Pine Cone Furniture Shop and is located next to Interstate 95. It is owned by Jewel and Todd Currie, who are requesting the zone change.

City Planner Ann Beverage said that the board does not have to follow specific standards in making a recommendation to the council, which has the authority to make zoning changes.

“It’s not like a variance — there are really no guidelines for rezoning except, by state law, that zoning has to be consistent with our comprehensive plan,” Beverage said. “But our comprehensive plan does not address marijuana shops.”

Waterville Code Enforcement Officer Dan Bradstreet said Wednesday that the city is not now issuing local licenses for any adult-use marijuana businesses because the state has not issued rules for adult-use, a process that’s expected to begin in the coming months.

The Waterville Planning Board on Monday will consider rezoning part of 475 Kennedy Memorial Drive to allow an adult-use-marijuana store to open there once state rules regarding adult-use marijuana are issued. The former Pine Cone furniture shop at that address is seen near the Interstate 95 interchange on Thursday. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

His office can, however, issue licenses for medical-use marijuana. If a marijuana business does open at 475 Kennedy Memorial Drive, it would have to open as a medical marijuana store and then transition to adult-use, or the owners would have wait until the state issues adult-use marijuana rules to open the business, according to Bradstreet.

The City Council in April approved a marijuana ordinance for the city and since then, Bradstreet’s office has received only one request for a license and that was for a business that has not yet opened, he said. There are other marijuana stores in the city that opened before Dec. 25, 2018 — before the ordinance was approved — so they are grandfathered, he said.

“People are anticipating it will happen and we put this ordinance together to be ready for it when it does happen,” Bradstreet said.

He said the ordinance was drawn up by a committee, City Solicitor Bill Lee reviewed it, and the City Council approved it in two votes.

The property at 475 Kennedy Memorial Drive once was zoned Commercial C but was changed to Commercial A because the owners at the time wanted to build an addition to the building and the setback requirements were too stringent, according to Bradstreet. The addition was never built, he said.

The Waterville Planning Board on Monday will consider rezoning part of 475 Kennedy Memorial Drive to allow an adult-use-marijuana store to open there once state rules regarding adult-use marijuana are issued. The former Pine Cone furniture shop at that address is seen near the Interstate 95 interchange on Thursday. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

“It’s really just switching back to what it originally was,” he said.

The marijuana ordinance the council approved in April regulates both adult-use and medical marijuana facilities in the city.

Councilors on March 19 took the first vote to adopt the ordinance, following a discussion about where the facilities may be located and how the rules regulating them would be enforced.

The council voted 5-2, with councilors Phil Bofia, R-Ward 2, and Jay Coelho, D-Ward 5, opposing the ordinance adoption.

The ordinance, developed by the city’s Marijuana Study Committee, says the terms of the ordinance shall have the same definition as the state’s law regulating medical and adult-use marijuana. Waterville’s ordinance requires 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 must obtain conditional approval from the state.

The original version of the proposed ordinance said law enforcement officers may inspect facilities at any reasonable time to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and conditions attached to license approvals. But the council on Tuesday made an amendment to say police may not do so with medical marijuana facilities, as there are privacy laws associated with such facilities and medical marijuana patients. Law enforcement officials would need to have a reason to request admission to inspect those facilities, Bradstreet said at the time.

Then-Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, a member of the marijuana committee, noted that the committee wanted to clarify that law enforcement officials will be able to investigate complaints and concerns about reported misconduct. She also said the committee wanted to leave open the possibility of amending the ordinance in the future. She said members even discussed the possibility of law enforcement officers receiving training on how to inspect grow sites. She had said earlier that the committee discussed a reported problem with agricultural inspections of grow sites causing damage to crops.

Councilors approved another amendment proposed by Bofia that says the general industrial zone located east of Front Street will be exempt — that marijuana growing, distribution and manufacturing facilities would be prohibited in that area.

Marijuana facilities and operations may not operate within 500 feet of school property lines or religious institutions or activities, the ordinance says.

It prohibits all types of facilities from being in the Commercial A zone, which encompasses the downtown.

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