WEST GARDINER — Six months after four controversial ordinance proposals were sidelined in West Gardiner, voters approved them Thursday night at a special town meeting.

About 80 voters also approved a $50,000 spending request to fix the town loader, and an ordinance to clarify requirements of the town’s minimum lot size.

The four proposals to regulate specific activities in West Gardiner — self-service storage facilities, solar energy systems, medical cannabis retail stores and medical cannabis cultivation operations — drew criticism from residents at public hearings in March and September, causing the initial versions to be sidelined earlier this year, before they came to a vote April 1 at the annual Town Meeting.

With no zoning other than what state law requires, no planning board, no requirement for building permits and a comprehensive plan that dates back more than three decades, West Gardiner has been facing the same development pressures as its central Maine neighbors, but without the growth regulations adopted in other communities.

Following Thursday’s vote, Corey Gero, owner of West Gardiner’s only medical cannabis retail store, said he is considering his options.

“I talked to my lawyer today,” Gero said. “She said to wait and see what happened.”


Gero, 45, operates Streamside Remedies Medical Cannabis on Route 126, not far from the West Gardiner Service Plaza on Interstate 295. At the time Gero opened his store, West Gardiner had not opted to allow any commercial medical cannabis activity, including retail stores.

Gero’s medical cannabis retail store is the only such operation in town, and under the ordinance voters approved Thursday, no others will be allowed.

While that might seem like an advantage for Gero, he said he does not see it that way. Under state law, his state cannabis caregiver license is not transferrable. If he were to die, the ordinance stipulates the business he built could not be transferred to his family members, even if they could secure the appropriate state credentials.

“I can’t transfer my medical card,” Gero said. “That’s not transferable, but the store location would be. Any business in town, if their father or mother passed away — now you tell me they can transfer the business, but I can’t? Because of the business I’m in? C’mon.”

Gero said he has lived in West Gardiner for more than four decades, and in addition to Streamside Remedies, he also has five rental properties in town.

“If I was to die tomorrow morning, where’s that leave my family?” he said. “If I want to sell or transfer, I should have the option.”


Even though Gero’s wife has a medical cannabis caregiver license and works full time in the business, she could not inherit Streamside Remedies or take it over. And Gero could not sell it to anyone else.

When the proposal was debated two weeks ago at a public hearing, Gero was not able to attend because he was coaching youth football. Other town residents, however, spoke against the ban on transferring the business into other hands.

While state regulations governing medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis are different, West Gardiner residents did not side with legalizing adult-use cannabis when the matter was put to a statewide referendum in 2016.

In Kennebec County, only Hallowell and Waterville voted in favor of legalizing cannabis, and the measure was approved statewide by only a narrow majority.

With little or no comment, West Gardiner residents also approved restrictions on medical cannabis cultivation operations, including limiting the number of such operations to five and prohibiting retail sales from cultivation operators through a retail store or delivery.

Residents also voted for a ban on future self-service storage facilities and the expansion of any existing facility, and a ban on new, large-scale solar energy systems, while allowing families and businesses to install small systems for their own use.

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