Arris succeeds Edmonds as Freeport library director

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FREEPORT — The Town Council on Tuesday night approved the appointment of Arlene Arris as director of the Freeport Community Library.

The vote was 6-0. Councilor Leland Arris abstained because Arlene Arris is his sister-in-law.

Councilors on Feb. 23 also discussed zoning requirements for providers of medical marijuana and whether there should be limits on where dispensaries, growing facilities and opiate addiction treatment facilities can be located.

Arlene Arris, who has worked at the library for 18 years, replaces Beth Edmonds, who retired earlier this month. Arris has spent most of her time as the director’s assistant and also worked for the town in other capacities before starting at the library.

“I love my job and have loved working with the directors,” Arris said. “I feel like I’ve been preparing for this for a while.”

Town Manager Peter Joseph said the town did an internal search for a new library director and Arris was chosen after being interviewed by a panel of town employees.

“She’s very well known,” Joseph said. “There’s a lot of community support and support from her employees.”

Arris said the library staff works well as a team and she’s excited to be overseeing them and library operations.

“I’m looking forward to steering the staff,” she said. “It’s kind of fun to know they’ll come to me, and Beth has given me the confidence to know I can give the best answers.”

Arris said Edmonds taught her a lot about running a library.

“Beth has been such a mentor,” Arris said. “I want to continue the good work she’s done.”

Edmonds also taught Edmonds how to work effectively with employees and with library patrons.

“She’s taught us how to be with the public,” Arris said. “Our patrons are our No. 1 priority, always.”

For now, Arris said she’s not planning on implementing any changes at the library. She said things will continue to run as usual.

“We’re not going to make big changes right now,” she said. “Nothing’s in the works.”

Arris said she’s very excited to continue working at the library because she loves where she works.

“Working for the town for over 30 years,” she said, “I can still wake up every morning and be excited to go to work.”

Regulated substances zoning

Joseph sent a memo to councilors Feb. 18 after Councilor Jim Hendricks asked for information on how the town would handle a request to locate a medical marijuana-related facility.

Code Enforcement Officer Fred Reeder provided information on where different types of facilities could be located. He said a commercial growing operation would be interpreted as “manufacturing and processing,” a dispensary would be considered a “retail use,” and an opiate addiction treatment facility would be a “business or professional office.”

Under current zoning, the three examples would be allowed in a variety of commercial, medium-density, village mixed use, local business, and village commercial zones. The full map and memorandum laying out specific details of where each one could be located can be found on the town website.

“I thought it’d be better for us to be ahead of this rather than behind it,” Hendricks said. He did not have specific recommendations.

Other councilors agreed. They decided to send the issue to the Planning Board, with instructions to look into whether other towns in Maine have zoning requirements for medical marijuana facilities.

Other than that, the council deliberately left their instructions vague, instead of asking how the town could limit the establishment of medical marijuana facilities.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Arlene Arris, at the podium, with Freeport Town Councilors Bill Rixon, left, and Jim Hendricks, and secretary Sharon Coffin, was appointed director of Freeport Community Library at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.