City council to vote on number of weed stores
KITTERY, Maine – City leaders are making plans to control the number of recreational marijuana stores before they vote on an ordinance that would allow them to open.
Will they do so by requiring a specific buffer distance between marijuana stores? Will they choose to cap the total number of licenses for marijuana stores in town? Or will they do a combination of the two? City councilors are now ready to make a decision at their Monday August 9 meeting.
As it stands, Kittery’s proposed ordinance would allow up to five total marijuana stores to be located at least 1,500 feet from each other in Zoning C-1 districts. , C-2, C-3 and mixed use of Kittery by exception.
District C-1 encompasses the Ripley Road and Route 1 area, while C-2 lies on Route 236. District C-3 includes Gorges Road, Valley Road and shares Old Post Road as a border with a district neighbour. The city has three mixed-use neighborhoods – one on Badger’s Island and another in the Foreside area. The third borders the city of York and includes Ledgewood Drive.
Previous coverage:In the weeds: Kittery city council postponed vote on retail marijuana ordinance
Maine’s retail marijuana market for residents 21 and older went into effect last October after being approved by state voters in 2016.
What city leaders are saying and what will happen next
Kittery City Council and Town Planning Council met on Monday evening at the request of Councilor Mary Gibbons Stevens to discuss the draft ordinance that would allow and regulate the operation of retail marijuana businesses in the city. This came after months of meetings on the matter, including a public hearing on June 28.
City officials changed the wording of the draft ordinance to require that marijuana businesses be located at least 1,000 feet from public and private schools and playgrounds in Kittery. (Maine state law requires 1,000 feet, but allows cities to reduce it to 500 feet.) Child care centers are exempt from the 1,000-foot buffer zone.
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City council chairman Jeffrey Thomson said councilors had been asked to submit questions regarding the ordinance, which were compiled into a report from Chief Executive Officer Kendra Amaral. The report says the 1,500-foot buffer zone was added to avoid business consolidation, which could have effects such as traffic jams and divert residential redevelopment into “critical” areas.
The Amaral report recommended either capping the total number of retail marijuana licenses or removing the buffer, saying, “We cannot effectively implement both.”
Although the council consensus was to maintain the five license cap for retail marijuana stores and the proposed 1,500 foot buffer zone, Thomson said the wording could be changed at the August 9 meeting. before a vote.
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Councilor Jeffrey Pelletier proposed the idea of allowing only one retail establishment per zone, saying he felt the idea of a buffer might be difficult to manage.
“It seems that on the traffic control side and the unintended consequences of authorization, limiting the number of licenses is the easiest type of leverage to use to alleviate your problems,” he said.
City staff have recommended allowing at least three retail marijuana licenses if the number is capped.
What the process might look like for marijuana businesses
The Amaral report suggests that potential marijuana retail companies will be asked to apply for a license from Kittery on a first-come, first-served basis rather than by lottery, stating: “We believe we can manage it safely. and fairly on a first come, first served basis. approach. “
Amaral added on Monday: “We believe first come, first served is a lot cleaner, especially in terms of our normal processes. We do everything by timestamp as is, but if the desire is to do a lottery, we will figure out how to do a lottery that will again reduce the city’s exposure to errors and potential problems.
Home medical marijuana suppliers, who are known as “caregivers,” must be licensed like all other home professions in Kittery. They will see their review process shift from the oversight of the Appeal Board to the Planning Board.
Maine prohibits municipalities from limiting the number of registered caregivers on their territory. Currently, there are four licensed caregivers in Kittery, the Amaral report says.
In June, the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy reported Maine’s highest monthly retail revenue total, with statewide cannabis sales totaling $ 6,470,963 out of more than 86,400 transactions.