2017-09-29 / Community News

News Briefs

Marijuana moratorium extended until March

There will be no retail marijuana establishments in Scarborough until at least next spring after the town council last week passed a 180-day moratorium on marijuana retail.

The moratorium, unanimously supported by councilors, lasts until Tuesday, March 19, and states “no person shall establish or operate a business operation of a retail marijuana establishment and/or social club within the town of Scarborough that was proposed on or after the effective date of this ordinance.”

It also stipulates “no official, officer, board, body, agency or employees of the town of Scarborough shall accept, process or act upon any application for approval, including, but not limited to a building permit, certificate of occupancy, site plan review, conditional use or any other approval” relating to retail marijuana establishments, defined as a store or cultivation, manufacturing or testing facility, and social clubs, an entity licensed to sell marijuana or marijuana products for consumption on site.

Councilor Bill Donovan, who chairs the town council’s ordinance committee, said the moratorium will “give the state enough time to do its work” of setting up the regulatory and licensing parameters. Once the state has unveiled that work, expected to be completed by February, Donovan said the ordinance committee will get to work drafting “an ordinance that deals with all aspects of the marijuana law.”

While many other communities have put in place similar moratoriums, Scarborough’s neighboring community to the north, Cape Elizabeth has outlawed retail marijuana establishments completely. In mid-August, the Cape Elizabeth Town Council passed an ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, testing, retail sales and social clubs.

South Portland, on the other hand, chose in May not to extend a moratorium that would have expired Nov. 30 and the council has, at the workshop level, begun to talk about imposing local regulations on licensing and zoning.

Formation of budget committee delayed

The town council punted the idea of forming an ad hoc budget review committee – at least for now.

Councilor Katy Foley brought up the idea to form the committee at the council’s Aug. 16 meeting, when it was tabled for a month to give councilors enough time to connect with school board members about the committee’s makeup and charge.

The committee, which is proposed to be made up of two councilors, a school board member, four residents and a representative of SMARTaxes and the Save Scarborough Schools group, would, if formed, come up with strategies to better inform the public about the budget and recommend ways to improve the budget process.

The connection between the council and school board was never made. Councilors tabled the topic once more and will take it up again Wednesday, Nov. 15. In the meantime the town council’s communications committee, made up of Foley, Kate St. Clair and Peter Hayes, will meet with the school board’s communication committee members Cari Lyford and Jodi Shea to discuss formation of the committee.

Although some councilors were hesitant to back the proposed makeup of the committee Foley said it is “a concept I am still very much in favor of.”

“Three referendums, no matter what side of the vote you were on says to me we need to do something more to get people involved in new ways,” Foley said.

The joint finance committee, comprised of Shea and Lyford and board chairman Kelly Murphy, as well as Hayes, councilor Chris Caiazzo and council chairman Shawn Babine, will also address the idea of the ad hoc budget committee during one of its upcoming sessions, a step supported by councilor Bill Donovan.

“I’d like to understand where the six people on the joint finance committee of the town and the school believe there are deficiencies, then express what those are and what are the best ways to solve them,” he said.

Caiazzo said his concern with the committee is with specifying which non-elected officials will be on the committee.

“If we start including or excluding people that just divides different groups and different camps,” he said, adding he would like to see a more open application process to serve on the committee.

Babine said he is glad the topic is being tabled again.

“It’s very important and we need to do it right,” he said.

Babine said the idea of a budget committee has been tried before and was not successful. The 25-member budget committee the school board created in 1999 “turned into a political show more than a process where we could accomplish something.”

Postponing the council action on the matter until mid-November will not only allow for more discussion between town councilors, school board members and the public, but will also allow the two new school board members and potential new town councilors who are elected at the Nov. 7 election to join the discussion.

Compiled by Staff Writer Michael Kelley. He can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

Return to top