Marijuana dispensary spurs action

Posted Nov. 10, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.

WHITNEYVILLE, Maine — When one of the state’s approved pot dispensaries nearly located in the heart of this small town recently, residents decided they needed to begin protecting themselves.

A special town meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday to approve taking $12,000 from surplus to pay the Washington County Council of Governments to assist the community in creating a comprehensive plan.

Selectman Nate Pennell said Tuesday that residents were upset when they learned two months ago that Prime Organic Therapy of Sanford was going to locate a medical marijuana dispensary in a former doctors office in the residential area of the community.

Pennell said that the village center, which once had seven mills, a busy railroad line and stores, is now completely residential.

By having a comprehensive plan, Pennell said the town would have control over what development is allowed and where it is allowed.

“We need to take a look at what we have and what direction we want to go in,” Pennell said.

He said busy Route 1 contains a major wreath manufacturer, fairgrounds and blueberry businesses.

Although Prime Organic Therapy later decided to locate its dispensary in Ellsworth, the close call was a warning for Whitneyville, Pennell said.

“We need to sit up and protect ourselves,” he said.

Part of that protection will be a comprehensive plan and companion ordinances.

Pennell said that in the 1980s, the town’s first comprehensive plan was created but then voted down by townspeople.

Times have changed considerably in the last 30 years. “Pot dispensaries were never thought of back then,” Pennell said.

Pennell said there is plenty of money — $170,000 — in the town’s undesignated fund balance to pay for WCCOG’s services. He said WCCOG would begin to hold a series of local meetings to determine what direction the townspeople want to take and what they would like to see in their plan.

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