CHINA: Planners again postpone action on marijuana facility application


by Mary Grow

At their Sept. 10 meeting, China Planning Board members again postponed action on Clifford Glinko’s application to open a medical marijuana facility in the former Mainely Trains building on Route 3, in South China. Again, the main focus of an inconclusive discussion was the meaning and application of state law and who decides on meaning and application.

The board’s Aug. 27 discussion included references to legal opinions from town attorney Amanda Meader and Glinko’s attorney, Christopher McCabe. Board members thought Meader intended to write a revised opinion (see The Town Line, Sept. 12, 2019).

They proposed asking Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, through China Representative Timothy Theriault, to advise on whether the requirements for a setback between schools and recreational marijuana businesses also applied to medical marijuana. As Glinko pointed out, the two types of business are covered under two different sections of state law: Title 28-B, Adult Use Marijuana; and Title 22, Health and Welfare, Chapter 558-C, Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.

As of Sept. 10, planning board members had nothing new from Meader and did not know whether anyone had approached the attorney general. Codes Officer William Butler had third-hand information that Meader thought she need not update her earlier opinion; Glinko believed she had been asked not to act until the attorney general replied.

Later in the week, Town Manager Dennis Heath reported that Theriault told him Frey had declined to give an opinion, recommending instead the town attorney or the Maine Municipal Association’s legal services.

The planning board discussion showed that since Aug. 27, emails had been exchanged among the two attorneys and Heath. Board members had not seen most of them.

Glinko, increasingly frustrated by the delays, reminded board members they are obliged to act within 35 days, but that statement sparked another brief debate: Glinko said within 35 days of submission of an application (his was received Aug. 13), Butler and board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo said within 35 days of the board voting the application complete, an action taken on Aug. 27. Butler’s and Miragliuolo’s position conforms to the China Land Use Ordinance.

Long-time board member Jim Wilkens insisted the board could not decide on the application without complete information and still be fair to both the applicant and the townspeople. After almost an hour’s discussion, board members unanimously tabled the application to their Sept. 24 meeting, expecting more clarity by then.

In other business, Miragliuolo shared with the rest of the board a summary of progress on drafting China’s revised comprehensive plan. Joel Greenwood, the consultant from Kennebec Valley Council of Governments assisting China’s Comprehensive Plan Committee, expects a first draft by December, ready for town voters’ action in the spring of 2020.

The next Comprehensive Planning Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening, Sept. 25. All meetings are open to the public, and new committee members are welcome.

Miragliuolo also shared copies of the five articles on the Nov. 5 local ballot that make up the “opt in” provisions required by state law if China is to allow medical marijuana establishments in town (see The Town Line, Sept. 12, p. 3, China Selectboard story).

Related story: Planners to hear medical marijuana application


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