June 24, 2018
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York board asked to reconsider approval of medical marijuana facility

David McNew | Reuters
David McNew | Reuters
A York resident, whose residential property abuts a medical marijuana facility, asked the Appeals Board to reconsider its approval of the facility.
By Susan Morse, The York Weekly

YORK, Maine — A neighbor of the medical marijuana facility on White Birch Lane has asked the Board of Appeals to reconsider its July 9 decision allowing the growing of pot.

Michael Briggs of Emus Way filed the application for reconsideration on July 18. The Board of Appeals is expected to hear his application Wednesday, Aug. 13. Meetings start at 7 p.m. in the York Public Library.

In his application, Briggs takes issue with the Appeals Board’s decision that the manufacturing of medical marijuana does not represent a change of use from other manufacturing uses at White Birch Lane.

“Manufacturing of wood and wood products in no [way] resembles or is in the same stratosphere as producing a federally unlawful narcotic,” Briggs wrote in the application.

The Board of Appeals should consider how a change of use affects neighborhoods, Briggs said in his letter to the board.

On Wednesday, Briggs said his backyard abuts the White Birch Lane facility.

“I have four small children playing around the yard,” Briggs said Wednesday. “The traffic on the road basically snakes around my lot. The traffic on that road has been obnoxious; 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning, I see the [headlights] at my house. They tear up through this road all the time.”

Some nights there are five cars and on other nights, 20, he said. Many of the vehicles have out-of-state license plates from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, he said.

“It’s an overburden use of the road,” Briggs said.

He contends the Appeals Board erred when members said there was no restriction on the hours the dirt road could be used. It’s a Dog’s World at the corner has an hourly restriction, he said.

Briggs said he’s not against medical marijuana, but he wants to know his children, ages 8 to 13, are safe.

“My whole big thing is, there was a change of use there,” he said. “I hope they put a stop to it. What I want to happen — I want openness.”

This is the first time Briggs publicly has spoken up about the issue, he said.

Briggs contends in his application the appeals board did not follow proper procedure in not allowing public comment at its July 9 meeting. However, the board took public comment at its first meeting on the medical marijuana facility held June 25.

Abutters said after the July 9 meeting they were concerned about a lack of regulatory oversight, increased traffic and the potential for use of the building to expand if marijuana should become legal in town or statewide.

The issue was originally before the Board of Appeals because building owner Bob Grant appealed a town Notice of Violation issued to him for a change of use at the White Birch Lane property without first going before the Planning Board.

The York Appeals Board on July 9 ruled medical marijuana represents manufacturing, and because Grant previously received a building permit for manufacturing, the use was grandfathered.

There are an estimated nine medical marijuana growers operating at the White Birch Lane warehouse. Under state law, the caregivers are allowed to grow up to six blooming marijuana plants for themselves and up to six blooming plants for five other patients.

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