Scarborough passes marijuana moratorium

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SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council on Wednesday passed a six-month moratorium on marijuana clubs and retail sales and pushed forward a discussion about forming an ad hoc budget advisory committee for the second time.

The council also approved senior outdoor amenities in Memorial Park and passed the first reading of a new ordinance that would prohibit residents from decorating town-owned trash carts.

With a unanimous vote of 7-0, a six-month ban on retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs was put in place to give the state time to establish its guidelines. The move mirrored action taken by most of Scarborough’s neighbors, including Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and Portland.

The budget advisory committee was proposed “to advise the Town Manager and Town Council on strategies to promote better community understanding of budget processes and support greater acceptance of results of the annual budget process shown by a positive School Budget Validation vote,” according to town documents.

Councilor Katy Foley, who proposed forming the committee, said, “We have had three failed referendums. No matter what side you are on … we need to get new ideas.

“The ultimate goal is really getting back to the place of passing the vote the first time around because people really believe it.”

The discussion had first been tabled from the council’s Aug. 16 meeting. Councilors agreed the idea needs still more fine-tuning and, after a lengthy discussion, unanimously voted to table the issue to its Nov. 15 meeting.

Amenities for Memorial Park

Councilors unanimously approved a design, location and construction plan for a community gaming area in Memorial Park that was requested by the Senior Advisory Committee. Funds in the amount of $100,000 were approved two years ago.

The new gaming area includes pickleball, horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet and an area with chess tables and corn hole boards, along with a handicapped accessible sidewalk and a pavilion. It will be located close to parking and the restroom/concession area.

Community Services Director Todd Souza told the council that the project can be completed with the allocated funds. A pavilion was not included in the original plan, but has been identified as a priority. Souza said the structure could be built during a second phase if it is approved by the council.

The next phase will be excavation, drainage and pad site work that could begin later this month or in October and completed in May.

“Our intent is to do as much as we can within the existing budget,” said Town Manager Tom Hall.

Stickered cans may be banned

Proposed amendments to the ordinance governing Garbage and Recycling Collection and Disposal would prevent residents from decorating their carts, and states, “Under no other circumstances should the carts be defaced by the use of markers sticker or paint.” A provision would allow residents to put their addresses on carts.

If the ordinance is violated, residents could be charged for the cost of the cart and could be subject to further penalties.

According to Hall, the catalyst behind the issue was a series of complaints from one resident. Town officials proposed the amendment after discovering there was nothing in the local ordinance that prevented residents from decorating the carts.

The first reading narrowly passed 4- 3 with Councilors Katy Foley, Peter Hayes and Katherine St. Clair opposed. A public hearing was scheduled for Oct. 4.

Resident Susan Hamill spoke out against the proposed change. She said she knows the disposal units are owned by the town, but putting stickers on them does no harm and provides a way to identify a cart from someone else’s. She also questioned what would happen to the hundreds of bins that already have stickers.

Councilor Chris Caiazzo was adamant in his position that the carts are public property paid for by taxpayers.

‘We don’t allow people to put stickers on our police cars,” Caiazzo said. “I don’t want to see people decorate their bins the way they want.”

Councilor Peter Hayes said he has been on the council for three years and never had a complaint about the issue. He said he has a sticker on his cart and lives in a subdivision where people line up their carts and use stickers to differentiate between them.

Hayes also questioned what would be done to those who have already decorated the bins. “Do we go back and penalize them?” He suggested having people clean the carts before they are passed on to other residents.

Hayes also referred to the proposed changes in the ordinance as a public relations nightmare.

Councilor Katherine St. Clair, who seemed incredulous at the idea of holding people responsible for decorating their carts, raised her voice when she said, “It’s a trash can … correct if I’m wrong. If there is a trash can that has already been defaced, are people going to get charged for whatever was done before?”

“I just see us chasing our tails for something that doesn’t seem worthwhile,” Foley said.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

A plan for a new Community Gaming Area at Memorial Park in Scarborough.A sketch of a new Community Gaming Area at Memorial Park in Scarborough.

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