ME: Hallowell Council To Hold Public Hearing On Marijuana Zoning, Permitting

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The City Council will hold a public hearing on zoning and permitting related to recreational marijuana during its first meeting of the year Monday.

The council will also hear the second reading on ordinance language that creates zoning, permitting and licensing standards for the legal cultivation, manufacturing, testing and retail sale of cannabis for adult use, including cannabis social clubs.

“Hallowell has actively worked toward local zoning and ordinance revisions that will help to create an environment for adult-use cannabis businesses that both supports the industry and reinforces the goals and values of our citizens,” City Manager Nate Rudy said.

Adult-use marijuana was approved by citizen referendum in November 2016, but the state legislature has yet to make rules and regulations that would govern its manufacturing, sales and usage.

In Hallowell, the measure to legalize recreational marijuana was supported in the referendum by 873 voters and opposed by 755, with 31 blank ballots. The Council approved a second 180-day moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments, retail stores and social clubs in September, giving the city the time to make changes to its zoning ordinances before the Legislature finalizes rules governing recreational marijuana.

Rudy said he thinks a respectful and responsible relationship with a legitimate business in this new industry sector will lay the framework for much-needed new jobs and tax base.

“It will prevent further growth of the black market that has been seen on the west coast,” he said. “Without thoughtful and directed action from the state, an uncontrolled and prolific black market may be exactly where we are headed.”

Code Enforcement Officer Doug Ide will update the council on continuing issues at three distressed properties and evolving concerns at a property along Water Street. Working to address problems with distressed and deteriorating properties has been a priority for Ide, who started as the city’s code enforcement officer early in 2016.

One thing not on the official agenda is an update on negotiations with Linda Bean to relocate the historic Dummer House to make room for a 30-space municipal parking lot. Mayor Mark Walker, the council and Rudy all have expressed optimism that the move and new parking lot would be completed before the start of the Department of Transportation’s Water Street reconstruction project in April, but as each day passes, that idea becomes more unlikely.