WATERVILLE — The fate of a marijuana retail shop on College Avenue hinges on three votes the City Council is scheduled to take Tuesday night regarding the city’s marijuana and public safety ordinances, as well as a license for the business.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at The Elm at 21 College Ave. and people also may view the proceedings via a link on the city’s website. An executive session is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. for the council to discuss labor negotiations.

Frank Berenyi contacted the code enforcement office in March to ask if a marijuana retail shop would be allowed in the zoning district for 68 College Ave., and was told it was. However, in late June the council voted to establish a “safe zone” around the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter on nearby Colby Street and that zone touches 68 College Ave. The zone is the buffer around the location — 500 feet from property line to property line — and 68 College Ave. is in a small part of that buffer. The zone prohibits the sale of drugs.

The council has been discussing how the city can accommodate the applicant, who learned of the safe zone after he had signed a lease for the property. City Manager Steve Daly said recently that the city’s safe zone is the first and only “municipal safe zone” established by the council. There are also “statutory safe zones” around schools, parks, playgrounds and churches in which criminal charges are elevated for offenses that occur in those zones, Daly said.

The council on Tuesday is scheduled to take three votes relating to the matter. The first vote is to amend the city’s public safety ordinance by adding a new section regarding the establishment of municipal safety zones.

City Solicitor William A. Lee III said in a memo Friday to Mayor Jay Coelho and councilors that if the city wants to allow the marijuana store on College Avenue then councilors should adopt a change to the marijuana ordinance that reduces the radius of the safe zone from 500 to 400 feet.

“This will allow the marijuana establishment at 68 College Avenue,” Lee’s memo says. “If you decide to go with the reduction to 400 feet, you should also change the 500-foot designation in the safe zone ordinance to 400 feet as well.”

Lee reviewed the proposed safe zone ordinance presented at the last council meeting and suggested modifications to it.

The second vote the council is scheduled to consider is whether to issue a marijuana retail license to Berenyi, doing business as Marijuanaville. The third vote would amend the city’s marijuana ordinance to reduce the area where marijuana licenses are prohibited from 500 feet to 400 feet from the property line of a municipal safe zone.  The amendment requires two votes and only one may be taken Tuesday.

In other matters Tuesday, the council is scheduled to consider a recommendation by the Planning Board to rezone part of 100 West River Road so the school department may build a 10,000-square-foot storage facility on the Waterville Junior High School property. The council also must vote twice on the zone change.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.