- Police Beat
- The Forecaster
PORTLAND — City councilors are scheduled to vote Wednesday on zoning amendments that will regulate retail marijuana cultivation, testing and retail sales.
The meeting was moved to Feb. 20 because Monday was Presidents Day.
Councilors are also scheduled to vote on the fiscal year 2019 capital improvements plan and accepting a $300,000 donation from Maine Medical Center for maintenance and improvements to Bramhall Square at Congress Street and Deering Avenue, the dog park on Valley Street and the Western Promenade open space.
The new zoning, which largely dovetails with existing zoning covering medical marijuana operations, was originally scheduled to face a vote Feb. 4. But councilors postponed action because Councilor Belinda Ray was ill and unable to attend the meeting.
Ray was expected to introduce several amendments to the zoning package, along with Councilor Kim Cook.
Current zoning has been in place since 2010, when dispensing medical marijuana became legal in Maine. The proposed amendments would set guidelines for the size, scope and location of retail marijuana operations for adults 21 and older, but no business permits will be granted until overriding state regulations are passed by the Legislature.
The council on Feb. 4 did hold a public hearing lasting 10 minutes, where speakers supported Ray’s efforts to streamline the licensing process so licensed medical marijuana operations will not have to re-apply for retail and adult-use purposes.
One amendment from Cook and Ray would allow retail marijuana stores to sell food and beverages, but would also ban anyone younger than 21 from entering an adult use marijuana store.
Stores would be limited to 2,000 square feet. Cook and Ray are also moving to extend the minimum distance any marijuana cultivation, testing or manufacturing facility can be located from city residential zones from 200 feet to 300 feet.
No facilities would be allowed within 500 feet of schools, and on-premise consumption is prohibited. The new zoning also bans outdoor product storage and drive-thru retail service.
Small-scale marijuana caregivers working with five or fewer registered patients per month would be limited to one per dwelling, and have a plant canopy capacity of no more than 125 square feet in dwellings with multiple residential units. A 250-foot plant canopy would be allowed in a single-family home.
The zoning allows cultivation, testing, manufacturing and retail sales in varied business and industrial areas.
The overall CIP plan looks to spend $42 million for municipal, school and stormwater projects, with $40 million of the total borrowed. It was endorsed unanimously by the City Council Finance Committee last month and had a first reading by the full council Feb. 4.
On the school and municipal side, the CIP borrows $17 million, while the city and School Department each add $1 million in fund surplus.
The amount borrowed is $5 million more than the amount of debt retired this year, and city Finance Director Brendan O’Connell said it will add 5 cents to the fiscal year 2021 tax rate if all the bonds are purchased.
The sewer CIP would bond $23.1 million for work and vehicles, including $6 million for a sewer separation project on Ocean Avenue at Mackworth Street in East Deering.
Bond debt for sewer and stormwater projects does not affect the property tax rate, as it is repaid through sewer and stormwater fees.
Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St.