Yarmouth delays decisions on marijuana, solar energy

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YARMOUTH — Town councilors Dec. 21 were prepared to take action on a proposed permanent ban on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs, and to endorse a group purchasing program for solar energy systems.

But both votes were postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Councilors and residents spoke in favor of the marijuana ban, which would prohibit retail establishments and social clubs indefinitely.

The town has a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana and social clubs that is set to expire in February 2018. State law allows the ban to be temporarily extended for one more, six-month period. 

Michael Brooks, of Benjamin’s Way, spoke against the permanent ban. He owns 7 Umbrellas, which develops technology for the cannabis industry, and asked the council why it would rather have a permanent ban instead of simply extending the temporary moratorium. 

“You’re basically banning my customers from operating in this town,” Brooks said. “I think it’s a very premature assessment to what’s going on. Ultimately, Augusta will regulate it.”

Brooks came prepared with a PowerPoint presentation addressing why these operations should be allowed, but wasn’t able to present it due to technical difficulties. 

Councilor David Craig said he’d like to wait to take action on the ban until after the council sees the presentation and moved to postpone the vote until the Jan. 18, 2018, meeting.

The motion was approved 4-2, with Councilors Richard Plourde and Robert Waeldner opposed. 

Solarize

The council also postponed action on authorizing the town to facilitate a “Solarize Yarmouth” program until Councilor Timothy Shannon could be present.

Chairwoman Pat Thompson said Shannon couldn’t attend the meeting because of an unexpected death in his family.

If the program is approved, the town would provide a joint purchasing option for solar panels from a selected provider for residents and businesses, which would help reduce the cost of installation. Similar programs have been implemented in Freeport, Bath, and Brunswick. 

The town would function as an organizing agency and intermediary between the public and selected solar installers, but would have little to no liability and no financial obligations.

Councilor April Humphrey proposed the program in August and last week said there is “no downside.”

Councilors and residents expressed support for the proposal.

Jeremy Ball, of Melissa Drive, called it a “no-brainer.”

At a Dec. 7 workshop, Shannon spoke in favor of the idea. 

“I appreciate his insight and would like to give him an opportunity to comment,” Plourde said. “I think he has a lot to add to this conversation.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

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