Edgecomb seeks residents’ opinions about marijuana ordinance

Ordinance Review Committee drafts postcard survey about banning or regulating retail sale
Posted:  Sunday, July 16, 2017 - 8:15am
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Edgecomb Planning Board Chairman Jack French, left, and Vice Chairman Barry Hathorne review a letter July 13 seeking residents’ opinions regarding enacting a recreational marijuana ordinance. BILL PEARSON/Boothbay Register

With legalized recreational marijuana becoming a reality in February, the Edgecomb Planning Board is seeking public guidance in drafting an ordinance. The board voted 4-0 July 13 to send residents a postcard survey with six questions regarding how to regulate recreational marijuana.

In November, Maine legalized recreational marijuana in a 50.2 to 49.8 percent vote. Edgecomb voters supported the referendum 437 to 373. As with alcohol, municipalities have the option to either allow or deny commercial sales. The Ordinance Review Committee drafted a letter explaining options for regulating sales and other commercial uses of marijuana. The letter includes a self-addressed postcard with the  heading, “Should Edgecomb regulate marijuana businesses?”

The questions seek residents’ input on whether or not Edgecomb should require licensing for marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, retail sales, social clubs, or none of the above. The planning board will send out 542 letters the week of July 24 explaining options for an ordinance along with the postcard.

In other action, the board continued drafting a floating structure ordinance. Earlier this year, the board received two inquiries about local regulations. Currently, Edgecomb has no restrictions against floating structures.  This led the board to review state guidelines, but the board couldn’t find a clear response. 

“This has turned out to be a complex issue. The state isn’t sure whether this is a land use question or not. So we are considering our options in how we should proceed,” Chairman Jack  French said.

The board is seeking legal advice from Damariscotta attorney Jennifer Villeneuve to assist in writing an ordinance. Villeneuve has contacted state agencies about regulations without much success. In a July 13 email, Villeneuve updated planning board officials. “Interestingly, MMA (Maine Municipal Association) was hoping DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) would take (the) lead in drafting proposed ordinances and DEP was hoping the AG’s (attorney general) office would take the lead. And all of them are hoping the town will take the lead,” she wrote.

In March, Edgecomb placed a 180-day moratorium on floating structures so the ORC could propose an ordinance for voter approval at the May 2018 town meeting. The ORC could propose prohibiting floating structures, but Villeneuve advised that may lead to legal challenges. She recommended drafting a strict ordinance regulating floating structures.

On July 13, planning board members discussed several options including limiting floating structures to marinas and permitting them only in the Damariscotta and Sheepscot rivers.The board will further discuss ordinance language at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20 in the municipal building.