Vassalboro residents asked for input on marijuana, picnic area

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen would appreciate residents’ opinions on two topics, preferably before the June 28 selectmen’s meeting. The first issue is whether townspeople want to try to restrict the number of storefront medical marijuana shops – places where people with a prescription for marijuana can get it filled – allowed in town. The second is whether there is any reason to continue to lease the Route 3 former picnic area and boat launch from the state, instead of canceling the lease.

Town Manager Mary Sabins raised both questions at the June 14 selectmen’s meeting.

The first came up because Sabins expects the planning board to hear an application to open a medical marijuana dispensary in one end of the storage building on Route 3. That business, if approved by planners, would be grandfathered and not affected by any later action, she said.

However, if many residents think one such business in town is enough, selectmen could draft an ordinance banning any more and bring it to a special town meeting. (ep)

Sabins pointed out that China already has a medical marijuana dispensary on Route 3, just east of the Adams Realty office.

Vassalboro has an ordinance banning retail recreational marijuana establishments, approved in January 2017. Medical marijuana, under state law, falls into a different category and is not covered by the recreational marijuana ordinance.

The Three Mile Pond issue came up, Sabins said, after a resident complained about the condition of the fence between the state-owned facilities and adjoining private property. She realized that neither the former picnic area nor the boat launch is of use to the town and asked state officials if the lease could be cancelled. The answer was yes, and the public would continue to have access to the boat launch.

The picnic area used to have tables, grills and other amenities, and town officials considered trying to create a swimming area. They found a weedy lake bottom and a lack of interest. The semi-abandoned picnic area attracted unwelcome behavior, so about nine years ago, by Sabins’ reckoning, the amenities were removed, leaving only the boat landing functional.

Selectmen are leaning toward not recommending limits on medical marijuana facilities – board Chairman Lauchlin Titus compared them to pharmacies – and toward giving up responsibility for the boat landing. They postponed both decisions, however, to let residents weigh in.

People wanting to express an opinion are welcome to call the town office or to get in touch directly with Titus, Robert Browne or John Melrose.

China Selectman Irene Belanger sent Vassalboro selectmen a third question, an invitation to close the Vassalboro transfer station and share China’s. After a brief discussion, Titus summed up the board’s response: Thanks for asking, but no thanks. Road Foreman Eugene Field reported on preliminary investigation into fixing an old culvert on Cross Hill Road, an issue he raised at the May 31 selectmen’s meeting (see the June 7 issue of The Town Line, p. 3). As expected, the work will be expensive. Field will continue exploring options.

Selectmen accepted Field’s recommendation and awarded the 2018 paving contract to the low bidder, Wellman Paving, of Winterport. As in past years, China and Vassalboro submitted a joint bid; China also chose Wellman.

Sabins told selectmen their notice to tenants of two mobile homes with failing septic systems had been delivered after the mobile home park’s owner took no action. The tenants were being advised to seek legal aid, she said.

The June 28 selectmen’s meeting begins with a 6:30 p.m. public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant awarded to the Vassalboro Sanitary District to help fund the new sewer connection to Winslow.


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