Hermon council to discuss marijuana moratorium

Posted Nov. 03, 2010, at 11:43 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — Town officials will consider proposed changes to the town land use ordinance and possibly extend a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities during a public hearing tonight in the public safety building meeting room.

During the hearing, which will take place during a 7 p.m. Town Council meeting, officials will consider repealing the six-month moratorium they enacted on July 8 and enacting a new one that also would run 180 days, according to Ron Harriman, the town’s economic development consultant.

Harriman is a member of a town subcommittee formed to analyze the town’s existing ordinances and recommend amendments aimed at protecting the town from effects including a shortage of or excessive burden on public facilities or services, in this case police coverage.

When town councilors imposed the July moratorium, they cited the fact that Hermon has only three full-time police officers “who currently cannot provide 24-hour coverage.”

While some headway has been made in tightening up land use rules, the moratorium might be extended if town councilors decide more time is needed.

The full text of the proposed changes can be seen at the town clerk’s office during regular business hours.

Among the provisions officials are considering are definitions, a fee schedule, amendments to the land use table and performance standards, according to the notice issued last month regarding Thursday’s public hearing.

Maine voters first approved the use of medical marijuana in 1999, and in November 2009 resoundingly supported expanding the law to include more medical conditions and the creation of nonprofit, government-sanctioned clinics and marijuana cultivation centers.

Northeast Patients Group, a recently formed corporation with ties to California-based Berkeley Patients Group, won approval in July from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to run four of the state’s eight clinics in or around Augusta, Bangor, Portland and Thomaston.

Northeast Patients Group has been talking with Hermon town officials for months about developing a marijuana cultivation facility in a Dysart’s warehouse near the interstate, Harriman said earlier.

With that in mind, the town enacted a moratorium so medical marijuana cultivation guidelines could be crafted, including the proposed fees and other rules. The Hermon subcommittee will present its proposals to the Town Council on Thursday.

Among other things, the subcommittee is proposing a $10,000 initial application fee and a $5,000 renewal fee for cultivation facilities, according to documents provided to the Bangor Daily News.

The committee initially focused on growing facilities but also plans to address dispensary rules in more depth, Harriman said.

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