China planners review two commercial plans

by Mary Grow

With two newcomers, Randy Downer and Natale Tripodi, joining Tom Miragliuolo and Jim Wilkens (and continuing member Toni Wall absent), China Planning Board members began their Dec. 10 meeting by electing Miragliuolo and Wall co-chairmen.

They reviewed two commercial plans, making no decisions on either. SunRaise Investments’ proposal for two solar arrays near Route 3 was a preliminary rather than a complete application, and board members agreed unanimously that James Nichols’ application for a self-storage facility was also incomplete.

SunRaise Investments Vice-President of Construction said one project, accessed from the Arnold Road, would be in the field behind Michael Willette’s gravel pit, an area that is mostly meadow with a bit of forested wetland. The Route 3 project would be on Daniel Ouellette’s property east of South China Village, close to the China Area Wash and Dry laundromat and the power line.

Corbett was accompanied by Lisa Vickers, Project Manager for Atlantic Environmental, who explained state permitting requirements and environmental plans, and Joseph J. Marden, Project Manager for Sitelines, who talked about construction issues.

Planning board members suggested topics to be covered in a final application, like noise, lights and security. The SunRaise team had no problem with anything proposed.

No date was set for submission of an application.

Nichols and engineer Al Hodsdon, of A. E. Hodsdon, briefly discussed additional information board members want before they review the proposed self-storage facility on Vassalboro Road. Codes Officer Bill Butler had questions about the planned holding tank for wastewater from a bathroom; he also asked Nichols and Hodsdon about the condition of the wet ponds that Hodsdon said his firm designed in 2002 as the planning board approved the adjoining car wash.

Preliminary discussion of local marijuana regulations took up the rest of the meeting. November’s approval of medical marijuana facilities led planners to consider regulating that aspect; now they are considering expanding the question to regulation of recreational facilities.

Resident Dawson Julia is circulating a petition for a town meeting warrant article that would ask voters to repeal the existing Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments in China and replace it with an ordinance that would allow and regulate such establishments.

Julia said almost two dozen Maine towns and cities have adult-marijuana-use regulations. Butler had two samples and will look for others that might help planners draft a China ordinance.

Miragliuolo said the November referendum showed that China voters do not have a negative view of marijuana establishments for medical purposes. Now the board will look at regulating non-medical uses if voters want them. Planners are not trying to influence residents’ attitudes, he emphasized.

Board members were not sure they could produce a draft for the April 4 annual town business meeting. The next voting opportunity would be in June.

The next regular China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Jan. 14.

CORRECTION: Planning Board member Natale Tripodi was incorrectly referred to as Natale Tripoli. It has been corrected, and we apologize for the error.


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