Faced with opposition from neighbors, the Rockland Planning Board will ask the city's attorney whether a medical marijuana processing facility downtown can also have a head shop located in the building.

The Planning Board held a public hearing Tuesday night, May 1, on the proposal by Nick Westervelt of Westervelt Provisions LLC for the business at the former First Baptist Church at 500 Main St.

In addition to growing marijuana for medical patients, Westervelt plans to have a glass shop that will sell paraphernalia related to marijuana and tobacco use. Westervelt also acknowledged that he plans to open a retail marijuana store once the state passes a law to allow that.

Neighbors argued against allowing the marijuana business at the 500 Main St. site.

Robert Arena, who owns the building on Main Street across from the proposed marijuana facility, was among the most vocal critics of Westervelt's plan.

Arena said the state law on retail marijuana intended that any retail pot business be low key, but that allowing a head shop at a medical marijuana site would go against that intent.

Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root said the city would get an opinion from its attorney on whether allowing a head shop at a medical marijuana facility is allowed. Head shops are allowed currently in commercial and downtown zones, the same as any retail business.

The board will meet again Tuesday, May 15, on the proposal. Westervelt had planned to open the business in July.

Arena and other speakers said they were unaware that the City Council had been considering an ordinance — approved in January — to allow medical marijuana processors in the downtown zone.

"I had hoped the City Council would have protected our interests," Arena said.

While the ordinance only relates to medical marijuana, councilors have voiced support for allowing retail marijuana stores anywhere that a drug store could be located.

The Maine Legislature was expected to vote Wednesday, May 2, on whether to override a gubernatorial veto of a law to allow the retail sale of marijuana.

Pat O'Brien, co-owner of Fiore Artisan Oils and Vinegars, across from 500 Main St., said the downtown district is not the place for a marijuana business. He said  this section of Main Street has been revitalized over the past nine years and is filled with family-oriented businesses.

He said the merchants and their customers do not need people who buy from head shops who abuse drugs wandering around that area of downtown.

David Theriault, who operates a dental office on adjacent Summer Street, also said that 500 Main St. was not the location for a marijuana business.

He also said the lack of parking would be a problem.

Planning Board Chair Erik Laustsen pointed out that there is no requirement for parking in the city's downtown zone.

Laustsen said he has on more than one occasion asked the City Council to require new businesses to pay into a fund that would pay for future parking.

"My requests have fallen on deaf ears," Laustsen said. "I think it's a big mistake."