Zoning ordinance updates still needs voters’ ok

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MARIJUANA — Roger Wulleman, a member of a committee set up by the Board of Selectmen last fall to review the need for an ordinance or regulations on retail marijuana, spoke out at the June 9 Annual Town Meeting about the potential problems he believes are associated if multiple marijuana facilities are allowed in town.

OXFORD — Town Manager Butch Asselin says a Special Town Meeting may have to be held in the future to approve an official updated Subdivision Ordinance and make other necessary changes.

A majority of voters turned down the request to update the Subdivision Ordinance that is contained within the town’s Zoning Ordinance at the June 9 Annual Town Meeting.

“At some point the town will need to have a Special Town Meeting so that we have an official adopted Subdivision Ordinance, updated table of Land Uses, delete the unlawful section 22, etc… ,” said Asselin in an email.

Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman said there are a number issues in the article that need to be resolved, such as updating the town’s subdivision laws, including new regulations for the so-called “tiny houses” and better defining a recreational facility such as a camper

“We need to update the Subdivision Ordinance,” she said of the document which has not been changed in 10 years.

The Board of Selectmen certified the amendments to some of the town’s ordinances, including the Subdivision Ordinance at its April 5 public hearing, but the document still had to be approve by town meeting voters.

In large part, Coey-Whitman said the changes were “housekeeping” and intended, in part, to tighten up their enforceability and defensibility of the Ordinance. By tightening up things such as definitions and placing them all in one location, the information is more easily accessible to developers, residents and others who need to access the information, Corey-Whitman had also noted during the public hearing.

But passage of the article also would have eliminated the three-permit restriction on medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries.

Marijuana question

While it is unknown why voters rejected the article, the emphasis of discussion at the town meeting by voter Roger Wulleman , a member of the now disbanded committee set up by the Board of Selectmen last fall to review the need for an ordinance or regulations on retail marijuana establishments and social clubs, was on the effect multiple marijuana grow permits in town.

Wulleman  spoke against the article on Annual Town Meeting floor saying he was concerned with potential problems, such as odors, that might occur if multiple marijuana establishments were allowed in town.

Corey-Whitman said following the meeting that there was some misinformation on town meeting floor such as the idea that there would be no Planning Board review for the cultivation and dispensaries.

The articles had no effect on recreational marijuana, which voters banned entirely in a subsequent article.

Under state law, medical marijuana providers can operate with a maximum of five patients at a time.

“There’s no need to come to us,” she said of those state-licensed providers.

But large growers, such as the one housed in the former Burlington Homes warehouse, do need a permit from the town and under the Medical Marijuana Ordinance, that limits the number of permits the town will issue to three. All three are currently in use and Corey-Whitman and Asselin said there are no permit applications pending.

The only exception has been the medical marijuana permit issued to 517 Main Street as part of a consent agreement between ActNow GC and the town negotiated to resolve a potentially $1 million lawsuit against the town.

The Final Consent Judgment, approved  in Androscoggin Superior Court, did not say that the limit on medical marijuana permits would be eliminated pending town meeting action, it allowed the use on the Stevenson property to be permitted as a nonconforming use.

A copy of the proposed ordinance is available for viewing at the Town Office.

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