2017-02-18 / Front Page

Wells evaluates marijuana regulations

2 public hearings scheduled in coming weeks
Staff Writer

WELLS — The town of Wells will be evaluating several marijuana regulations over the next several weeks, including proposed language regarding retail marijuana establishments.

On Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen will hold a workshop to evaluate the language surrounding retail and social club use of marijuana, Town Manager Jonathan Carter said Thursday.

Carter said the selectmen have yet to determine regulations for such use since recreational use of marijuana was only voted into law by voters on Nov. 8. Marijuana officially became legal for recreational use on Jan. 30.

“This is the first time they, being the selectmen, will have a chance to look at the initial language being proposed,” Carter said.

The selectmen — in addition to the town’s Planning Board and Board of Appeals — will hold two public hearings regarding changes to an ordinance regulating medical marijuana caregiver facilities.

The intent is for the three boards to obtain public comment in order to discuss and clarify land-use regulations pertaining to such facilities in relation to the town’s agricultural zones.

The first public hearing will allow residents to voice their opinions on a change to the town’s land-use regulations to retroactively amend the definition of “agriculture” in the town charter to exclude marijuana growing, production, testing or processing.

“We think we’ve made an error in allowing these facilities in agriculturally-zoned areas,” Carter said. “There is a provision of our charter that allows, if we think there has been an error or need to clarify, between those three boards and planning staff, they can amend the ordinance.”

Currently, caregiver facilities are allowed in the agricultural zones, but Carter said there has been concern in recent months over a particular medical marijuana caregiver facility located there — which he said is across from an in-house daycare facility.

“The neighborhood is fairly close together and it’s seen as a commercial place where the stuff is being grown in quantity,” he said.

The three boards will discuss whether to amend its current ordinance to allow medical marijuana caregiver facilities to be allowed only in zones known as light industrial zones.

“The reason we’re doing it is because, all of a sudden, Wells has become a very popular place to build these caregiver facilities and they’re doing so in rural neighborhoods,” Carter said. The problem is they’re right on top of other homes and obviously people are upset with this sort of facility right next to them.”

Carter said a moratorium on caregiver facilities in November was not able to stop all such facilities from becoming established in the agricultural zones because of the timing of applications.

The second public hearing pertains to a proposal to retroactively regulate medical marijuana cultivation and production facilities to allow them only within the Light Industrial District, in addition to adopting other performance standards and definitions.

Carter said the industrial zones aren’t residential, and so make more sense as locations for caregiver facilities. He said there is currently one such facility operating in the light industrial zone.

Should the Planning Board agree to recommend changing the ordinance, Carter said, then selectmen will review the changes and consider voting to amend the ordinance.

The proposal will go to before the June 13 annual Town Meeting.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

Return to top