After a non-binding June vote that showed Rockport voters do not support retail marijuana establishments within town borders, the Select Board voted July 10 to have town officials bring a question before voters in November to restrict commercial activities in town.

In November 2016, a statewide referendum was approved to legalize recreational marijuana, but it left commercial sales and cultivation approval up to local land use ordinances.

Chairman Ken McKinley said the vote in June was fairly clear that people were not in favor of retail sales or social clubs in Rockport. The reason the non-binding question was put before voters was to get an idea of the wishes of the townspeople before having a committee go through the process to develop an ordinance, only to have it shot down at the polls.

In June, 668 people said they do not support retail marijuana establishments and retail social clubs operating in Rockport, while 321 people supported the idea.

"So, 62 percent of Rockport voters were not in favor of amending the land use ordinance to allow retail marijuana operations here in Rockport, 29.8 percent were in favor and 8.3 percent didn't know or didn't care," Town Manager Rick Bates wrote in his manager's notes. "This article accomplished what we hoped it would, which was to give us guidance as to ordinance revisions."

McKinley asked if the ordinance would also prohibit retail cultivation of marijuana. Bates recommended prohibiting it entirely in town, because it would be fairly easy to go back and change the ordinance to allow commercial cultivation later.

Select Board member Doug Cole said he feels the people spoke really clearly and agreed with Bates about directing the committee to create an ordinance to ban everything.

Board member Mark Kelley made a motion to direct the town manager to proceed with having the planning and community development director develop language to bring to the voters on the November ballot that would amend the land use ordinance and restrict commercial marijuana activities in Rockport.

The board approved the motion 3-0. Board members Owen Casas and Tom Gray were absent.

In other news, Patrol Officer Tony Del Vecchio was sworn into office as a full-time employee. Del Vecchio, of Warren, has worked for the town on a part-time basis since June 5. He is a graduate of Southern Maine Community College with an associate's degree in criminal justice and of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. He recently has been employed for more than two years with the Scarborough Police Department.

Courier Publications Kim Lincoln can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.