China planners to hear application to convert Knowles building to marijuana business

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members have scheduled a Sept. 28 public hearing on Miguel Rivera’s application to convert the Knowles Mechanical Building at 1097 Route 3 to a medical marijuana business.

The building is a short distance east of Dirigo Corner, where Dirigo and Alder Park roads intersect Route 3 (also called Belfast Road). Codes Officer Jaime Hanson, summarizing Rivera’s application, said Rivera plans no changes to the exterior of the building, the parking areas or the grounds.

Hanson said the existing septic system, approved in 2013, should be adequate for the proposed new business. Rivera said he has not had it inspected, but the facilities indoors seem to work properly.

The change of use will have no effect on a mapped wetland on the property, Hanson said. Referring to a requirement that no medical marijuana business can locate on a property within 500 feet of a school, day care or other child-oriented use, Hanson said the provision is met.

That issue later raised two others: whether the existence of a medical marijuana facility prohibited a child-based use in an adjacent building and thereby “burdened” surrounding lots, and whether home-schooling counts as a child-oriented use. The questions were left unanswered.

Rivera said he has a state medical marijuana caregiver’s license. He plans no more than two or three employees in the building at a time, he said. He will not have a marijuana growing operation in the building.

Planning board members agreed the next steps are notifying abutters of the proposed change of use and holding the Sept. 28 public hearing. Unless new pandemic regulations require a change, the hearing should be at 6:30 p.m. in the portable building behind the town office on Lakeview Drive, with interested residents invited to attend in person.

Hanson said there might also be an application to amend a subdivision, by approving the already-accomplished relocation of Fire Road 19, at the Sept. 28 meeting.

In other business, Hanson reported that he remains backlogged on permit applications, but Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood has authorized staff help. Planning Board Chairman Randall Downer expressed appreciation to the manager.

Board member Toni Wall said she plans to spend six months on the Appalachian Trail next year. She asked whether she should ask for a leave or resign from the board.

Board member James Wilkens said he considered the question the board’s business and made a motion to authorize a six-month’s leave for Wall. The motion was approved 4-0 with Wall abstaining.


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