With little fanfare, voters passed ordinance amendments at the annual town meeting June 14 that will allow the Planning Board to consider applications for crematories and retail marijuana establishments.

Hall Funeral Homes has already expressed interest in building a crematory at the Village Cemetery.

In the case of marijuana sales, cultivation and testing, however, the Legislature is still writing statewide regulations. That process is expected to conclude by the end of February 2018.

There has been some opposition to the idea of a crematory. A neighbor of the cemetery had gathered signatures for a petition calling for a ban on crematories, but as of a public hearing last month he said he would hold the petition as long the proposed facility is set back from the street.

On June 14, however, the article adding crematories as a conditional use under the ordinance passed without discussion.

Likewise, the ordinance amendment adding marijuana facilities as a conditional use passed with almost no discussion. The amendment bans social clubs and restricts retail, testing and cultivation facilities to the highway commercial and industrial zones, the areas where Walmart, Lowe's and Dragon Cement are located. Some farmers, however, could be permitted to grow marijuana outside of the zones.

Thomaston hosted a medical marijuana dispensary in the highway commercial zone until last year, when it moved to Bath.

Last month, caregiver Mark Crockett opened a new medical marijuana facility in the same location next to Fastenal. Crockett said he would be interested in obtaining a license to sell recreational marijuana when that is possible, while Code Enforcement Officer Bill Wasson said at the hearing in May that there had been three requests so far from people interested in setting up recreational facilities.

Voters approved all 44 articles on the Town Meeting warrant, including a $3.2 million budget, up 2.83 percent, or $89,741, from last year.

An earlier budget summary released by the town indicated the property tax rate would come to $18.68 per $1,000 of assessed property.

Voters asked a number of questions throughout the town meeting, but there were few signs of opposition to the warrant articles as written.

One resident asked why the amount allocated to Financial Assistance had decreased. Town Manager Valmore Blastow explained that requests for assistance had been on a steady downward trend, from a high point of 118 applicants and $36,056 expended in 2009 to just $8,871 for 24 applicants last year.

Financial Assistance will be allocated $12,000 in 2017-2018, compared to $15,000 in the last fiscal year.

Another question concerned $10,000 allocated to cover additional costs of settling a tax dispute with Lowe's. Assessor David Martucci explained the dispute, which began with an abatement request from the hardware chain last year.

As a result of the settlement, Lowe's Thomaston location will be assessed at a lower value, but the company has agreed not to seek abatements through 2019.

Martucci said that in his research he had found corporate filings from Lowe's with a line indicating a profit center from reducing property taxes.

Perhaps the most discussion was generated by an article raising and appropriating $30,000 to build and improve sidewalks. Resident Lynn Snow expressed concern about Watts Avenue leading to Thomaston Grammar School, where she is a teacher. She said young children walk and ride bikes there, and asked whether sidewalks would be constructed along the street. That brought on discussion of safety leading to Oceanside Middle School, and then whether too many sidewalks in town are blocked by overgrown brush and trees.

Blastow said the town would eventually like to extend the sidewalk up Watts Avenue, but he wasn't sure how far the current year's project would go up the street.

Selectman and Tree Warden Peter Lammert told the resident concerned about tree growth to call him about overgrown vegetation.

Town report dedicated to Haj

The annual town report was dedicated to retiring Thomaston Police Chief Kevin Haj.

"From his first day on the job, Kevin showed his true calling as a police officer," the dedication reads. "His ability to communicate with the citizens, the way he would provide comfort and compassion when the need arose, and the strength to uphold the law and protect the community, has served Thomaston and its citizens well."

Haj has been on vacation in recent months and will officially retire this week. Sgt. Tim Hoppe has been serving as acting chief.

Reporter Dan Otis Smith can be reached at 594-4401 x123 or by email at dsmith@villagesoup.com.