Scarborough moving slowly on marijuana moratorium

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SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council is a step closer to approving a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs. 

The council Wednesday voted 5-0 on the first reading of the ban, and scheduled a public hearing for September. Councilors Katy Foley and Katherine St. Clair were absent.

Councilors also unanimously approved the first reading of an amendment to an ordinance that would restrict public parking near Pine Point Beach. They also voted to authorize the Police Department to apply for a block grant to help fund Operation Hope.

Councilor Chris Caiazzo said he supports the marijuana moratorium, and has concerns about labeling, product control and lack of state regulations.

“Prudence demands we go slow and wait for direction from the state,” Caiazzo said.

Councilors scheduled the public hearing on the six-month moratorium for Sept. 6. A second reading and final vote on the moratorium would take place at a later date.

Chairman Shawn Babine note marijuana legalization was approved statewide, but did not receive affirmative support in Scarborough. He said the town needs to take a “prudent” approach because that is what the community is asking the council to do.

Councilor William Donovan said Scarborough’s go-slow approach will allow it to learn from the experience in other communities.

“Yes, we’ll be watching it,” Donovan said.

Pine Point parking

The Pine Point Beach parking amendment would restrict where people can park along Pine Point Road from East Grand Avenue to Snow Canning Road. Parking would be limited to delineated spaces along the southwestern side of the road.

Donovan said there are now no restrictions on parking on either side of Pine Point Road from East Grand Avenue to the railroad bridge.  He also said there are 18 parking spots proposed between East Grand and Snow Canning Road.

Angela Blanchette, town engineer, outlined proposed improvements to the Pine Point corridor between the newly constructed railroad bridge to the intersection of East Grand Avenue.

The new proposal would narrow traffic lanes, typically 12 feet wide, to 11 feet; create a bike lane on both sides of the road; rebuild the sidewalk; provide designated parking spots, and add trees. 

Councilor Peter Hayes said as a bicyclist he would appreciate a bike lane.

A public hearing on the amendment will take place at the next council meeting on March 1. Babine said councilors may vote on the question at the meeting after the public hearing, depending on the response from the community. 

Operation Hope

The application for a $33,000 Cumberland County Community Development Program Grant for Operation Hope would help pay for transportation and treatment costs for people facing opiate addiction. It would require a $6,600 match, which has already been raised through donations.

Even though the town is not funding the grant, the council still had to formally approve it.

Caiazzo applauded the Police Department for its work on Operation Hope, but said the program should be a stop gap. He said the municipality needs to put pressure on the state Legislature to adequately fund treatment. 

“We can be part of the solution,” Caiazzo said, “but we are not the solution.”

The program, which is run by two Police Department employees, has has placed more than 220 people in treatment centers across the country since October 2015, and has been a model for similar program in other communities.

The department said last December that Operation Hope faced a financial crisis.

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

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