At their Jan. 21 meeting, Vassalboro selectmen discussed a seriously scaled-down marijuana ordinance that would allow only medical marijuana operations in town.
Instead of the complex document discussed at their Jan. 7 meeting (see The Town Line, Jan. 14), they are considering a local ordinance based on the Town of Turner’s. One objection to the previously-discussed ordinance was that it would require too much permitting, inspecting and other work for town employees. Eliminating all but medical marijuana would simplify the town’s role.
Town Manager Mary Sabins said she had received many comments on the Jan. 7 draft, prepared by Town Attorney Kristin Collins. None expressed enthusiasm for non-medical facilities.
The state Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) suggested the Turner ordinance as a useful model, she said. She had talked with the Turner town manager, and had forwarded the ordinance and his comments to Collins.
Selectmen agreed that if they decide to recommend a medical-only ordinance, they should seek public comment again.
Sabins added that the OMP has licensed 20 medical marijuana caregivers in Vassalboro. Selectmen were not aware there were so many.
The other major topic Jan. 21 was the Gray Road culvert replacement. Selectmen expect they will be able to get the new culvert needed to replace the failing one in time for the work to be done this summer, if town meeting voters approve it.
At their earlier Jan. 7 board meeting, selectmen considered the possibility that voters would not approve money for the project. But if they waited until after town meeting to order the culvert, it would probably not come in time for summer 2021 work.
Project engineer Eric Calder, of Calderwood Engineering, in Richmond, said Dirigo Timberlands, in North Anson, from whom Vassalboro officials bought the new Cross Hill Road culvert, will build the culvert before Vassalboro voters act.
Dirigo and Benton-based Nitram Excavation and General Contractors, chosen at the Jan. 7 meeting to carry out the project, will work out details and sign a contract for the culvert. Nitram will be responsible for seeing that it is built and delivered as specified.
Selectmen approved the plan and unanimously authorized Sabins and Calderwood to proceed with a contract with Nitram.
Calderwood said it is time for the town and his firm to develop a Phase Three contract that will cover Calderwood’s oversight of the construction. He said the contract will be based on an hourly rate, not a flat fee, and people from his firm will be on site only as needed.
In a brief discussion of another project, Steve Jones’ request to restore the coldwater pool that housed brook trout before the Cross Hill Road culvert was replaced, Sabins said she still hopes a volunteer will be able to get a permit at no cost to the town. If the permit is obtained, she thinks the town public works crew can do the work.
Vassalboro’s 2021 town meeting is currently scheduled as an open meeting on Monday, June 7, followed by written-ballot elections (and other questions if needed) on Tuesday, June 8. Selectmen and Sabins talked briefly about whether they should try to convene an open meeting, as they did in 2020, or vote entirely by referendum, as many other towns are doing in response to Covid-19.
They discussed a theme for the 2020 town report. Sabins said the report dated 2020 is published in the spring of 2021, and covers the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.
Until the pandemic, selectmen had intended to recognize Maine’s 200th anniversary of statehood (March 15, 1820) in the 2020 report and Vassalboro’s 250th anniversary of incorporation (April 26, 1771) in the 2021 report. With limited state and town celebrations to report, they are reconsidering.
Two of the selectmen, Barbara Redmond and Chairman John Melrose, approved annual liquor license renewals for Natanis Golf Course. The third board member, Natanis owner Robert Browne, abstained on the vote.
Sabins plans to distribute a first draft of the 2021-2022 town budget at the Feb. 4 selectmen’s meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., virtual only. Board members decided to follow the Feb. 4 review with an in-person budget workshop at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, in the town office meeting room.
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