The building in which Scott Gallant is proposing to develop a marijuana establishment. Contributed

A group of Bowdoinham residents is raising concerns over a plan to redevelop a property at 17 School St. into a recreational marijuana retail and growing facility.

The residents argue the facility would be too close to the town office, library and church, and would add to congestion in the area.

Scott Gallant, a Bowdoinham resident, is proposing the retail facility at his four-story building next to the Coombs building, which is the town office. That building also houses the town’s public library, which hosts many programs for children.

Gallant had earlier requested to operate a yarn shop and bed-and-breakfast in his building, but has changed his ideas, said residents.

“We have kids walking on that street, and there is a lady who has a professional garden there that people stop by to purchase,” said Lara Ashouwak, a resident of Bowdoinham. “If this marijuana facility comes up, it will only increase the traffic and cause increased volume and noise from the deliveries that would be arriving at this facility.”

The residents allege that Gallant built a four-story building in the center of the town, violating several building codes. He is also not in compliance with past agreements with the town, Ashouwak said.

“For years now, he has been adding on to a very traditional-looking New England home,” Ashouwak said. “He built a four-story monstrosity in the center of the town all by himself.”

Repeated attempts to contact Gallant for comment were unsuccessful.

According to Gallant’s plan, the marijuana shop would occupy the first floor, plants would be grown on the second and his residence would be in the attic.

“I am one of those people who is very allergic to the odor of marijuana,” Sarah Stapler, who lives 100 feet away from Gallant’s property, said. “I become nauseated and throw up. Moreover, the size and nature of the business will cause School Street and the town parking lot to experience overflow parking and increased traffic on an already dangerous hill.”

Stapler added that adult recreational marijuana stores average 82 transactions in a month, according to the state. If the proposed marijuana facility is half as successful as an average retail store, that would mean a potential 41 more cars on this street.

Many Maine municipalities have imposed setbacks from residential and other sensitive uses, such as parks and recreational facilities, places of worship, schools and daycare facilities. Such setback restrictions reflect an understanding that marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facilities are incompatible with residential neighborhoods, where children gather, or downtown commercial or mixed-use districts.

“A marijuana grow house, manufacturing facility, and retail shop needs to be buffered, but this 45-foot-tall building with setbacks, not more than 14 feet and one less than 10 feet is not possible to buffer,” said Stapler. “If this facility is approved, it will set a precedent for not requiring buffering of businesses that have a negative impact on nearby residents and public areas.”

Bowdoinham Public Library Director Kate Cutko said the library board members would be registering their disapproval of the project.

The Planning Board will hold a site walk and a public hearing on a site plan review application from Gallant Thursday.

“We will submit the letter to the planning board, and one of our board members will read the letter publicly during Thursday’s meeting,” said Cutko.

Though there are marijuana plant growers in the town, there are no retail marijuana facilities.

Across the state, only 47 of Maine’s approximately 500 towns, cities, and plantations have opted in to allow recreational marijuana retailers. Fewer than a third of Maine residents, just 29%, live in those communities, though many more live near them, according to data from the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy and the 2020 U.S. Census.


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