WILTON — The Wilton Select Board moved to send two articles amending the zoning ordinance to the town’s 2022 Town Warrant at the Tuesday, April 19, meeting.

The first article amends the town’s Adult Use and Medical Marijuana Ordinance. It adds definitions and stipulations on the establishment of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.

Previously “dispensaries” were not defined nor included in the town’s marijuana ordinance. In February, Town Manager Rhonda Irish explained that the definition of “dispensary” had been “expanded” by the state.

According to the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), “the most notable difference [between a dispensary and a caregiver retail store] is that dispensaries can grow an unlimited number of marijuana plants.”

The issue of excluding dispensaries from the town’s ordinance first arose in February when John Black, owner of cultivation and medical-retail business Earth Keeper, asked that the board approve his application to transfer from a retail to dispensary license amid delays.

Board members were unsure whether the application could be approved due to the lack of definition on the ordinance.


Selectperson Tom Saviello felt that dispensaries were approved when the town first “opted in” to allowing marijuana businesses in Wilton at the 2019 Town Meeting.

Ultimately, Black’s application was approved and the board agreed to address these ordinance issues at the 2022 Town Meeting.

At the most recent board meeting, Irish said this amendment would be “getting it written so that [when] somebody else comes into wanting to do a dispensary, it will actually be in the ordinance.”

The article is also asking voters to approve commercial uses for dispensaries. The article would allow dispensaries to operate in farm and forest, commercial and resource protection/watershed overlay zones upon Planning Board approval.

Like all the stores and facilities, dispensaries would not be allowed to operate within 500 feet of schools, religious institutions, licensed day cares or libraries and do not allow consumption on site.

The other article sent to the warrant would amend the town’s space and bulk standards. It adds stipulations on standards in limited residential and recreational zones and a discernment between non-commercial uses and commercial uses.


In six of the 10 defined zones, the amendments increase the minimum requirements for commercial uses, including 60,000/20,000 sq. feet for minimum lot size/subsurface disposal/sewer and 300 feet for minimum shore frontage.

This would ultimately impact Wilson Lake Marina, for which an application has already been denied by the Planning Board and an appeal denied by the Appeals Board.

Irish said it would bring the town into compliance with the state’s shore frontage standards – which was the reasoning for  zoning ordinance amendments regarding shore frontage standards approved at the 2021 Town Meeting.

The Planning Board was also asking the Select Board to approve three other articles. One would have changed the spot zones of 87 High Street and 83 High Street (the location of the Belle Arts Center) from Industrial to Residential I.

Irish said “we’re not going to have industrial in that small property, I don’t believe, ever again.”

Saviello asked if Belle Arts Center owner Vera Johnson had requested the change.


No, it was by the request of the planning board and Code Enforcement Officer Charlie Lavin because “it’s going to be harder for spot zones to be upheld in any courts,” Irish.

Saviello said he wasn’t going to move to approve this article for the warrant “unless [Johnson] … requests this change and understands what the change means [for] her … the ramifications.”

Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri agreed that Johnson should have some “input.”

Irish said she wasn’t aware of Johnson attending the Planning Board’s public hearing on the articles; that Johnson had not yet replied to an email from Irish.

Moreso, Saviello said he could see Johnson someday creating something under an industrial or commercial use.

The board ultimately scrapped the article, for the time being, until Johnson provides her input. Depending on how things move forward, Irish said the article could still make it to the 2022 warrant.


The other article not yet approved by the board was amendments to the commercial use definitions and tables including the addition of stipulations on emergency contacts to short-term residential rentals.

The board felt it was unfair to ask a property owner of a short-term rental to require an emergency contact to respond to “complaints [on] the condition, safety or operation of [a unit] or the conduct of guests,” according to the proposed article.

Select Board Chair David Leavitt felt it was “discriminating against somebody’s business model.”

Treat them all the same, Selectpersons concurred.

The board ultimately sent the ordinance back to the Planning Board to remove those stipulations, discernment between short and long-term rentals and edit a typo.



Irish announced she is retiring after 13 years as Wilton’s town manager.

Selectpersons congratulated Irish and expressed they would miss her after the hard work she’s done for Wilton.

The board also discussed and moved forward with plans to spend the towns approximately $419,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The board moved to get quotes for a potential LED sign at the public safety office while still looking in to spending ARPA funds on the Wilson Lake Retaining Wall project.

Leavitt felt that funding the Wilson Lake Retaining Wall project is more impactful for residents.

Among other ideas including broadband expansion, the board is also considering further hazard pay for police officers. It will pay the department an additional $1,000 for 68 weeks in order to help with recruitment and retainment of police officers amid a state-wide shortage.


Selectperson Keith Swett asked if the town would have to assume this spending in future budgets after the 64 weeks.

Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri, who is advocating for the spending, reasons that this spending will help with retainment to avoid future spending for training of new police officers at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

The Select Board and Finance Committee are both suggesting a $98,859 (16.8%) increase to the town’s 2022-23 police department budget that would, in part, pay for the training of two new officers alongside officers that will temporarily replace them while they are at the criminal justice academy.

This hazard pay will keep costs down in the long run, Maiuri believes.

“It’s a big bang for the buck,” Maiuri said.

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