Rockland planners review downtown pot facility as Council readies for moratorium vote

By Stephen Betts | Aug 08, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts Mark Crockett, right, and his attorney Josh Tardy met Tuesday evening, Aug. 7 with the Rockland Planning Board.

Rockland — The Rockland Planning Board held its first review Tuesday evening of a proposed medical marijuana production facility for 266 Main St., ultimately deciding that the application was incomplete.

But the proposal's fate is uncertain as the Rockland City Council is scheduled to vote Monday, Aug. 13 on whether to impose a six-month moratorium on such projects.

The man proposing the marijuana production facility, Mark Crockett, told Councilors Monday evening, Aug. 6 that a moratorium was not necessary. He said there were already limits in the city ordinance that regulates the facilities.

Those include a 250-foot distance between the lots of marijuana facilities from other marijuana businesses and a 500-foot buffer between the lot of a marijuana facility and that of a school lot.

Crockett said that Mayor Valli Geiger's concern about pot shops popping up throughout Main Street is unfounded.

A week earlier Geiger had voiced concern that one project has already been approved by the Planning Board, a second one (Crockett's proposal) has been submitted, and a third person has taken out an application. The identity of that person is not known but told the code office staff when he picked up an application that the project would be downtown.

Councilor Amelia Magjik said when the city ordinance was created she did not intend for retail marijuana stores to be downtown.

Rockland has not voted to allow retail marijuana sales when the state law takes effect later this year. The state law requires municipalities to vote in order for retail sales to occur.

Geiger defended her moratorium proposal during the Aug. 6 meeting.

"I'm just saying, slow it down, We're seeing people willing to buy out business leases," Geiger said.

A moratorium would allow the city to review its medical marijuana production facility ordinance, the city attorney told councilors.

Crockett's proposal was deemed incomplete at the Planning Board's Aug. 7 meeting. The next review would be Aug. 21 if the additional information required by the Board is submitted by Aug. 14.

No public hearing has been scheduled. There were no comments from the public at the Aug. 7 meeting.

Planning Board member Carol Maines questioned the location of Crockett's project.

Crockett from Pen Bay Alternative Medicine Inc. of Benton wants to open the pot facility at the building currently leased by Hill's Seafood for its restaurant.

"Think of the view from that location," Maines said, pointing out that Rockland already has a car wash with a beautiful view of the harbor. "You could be anywhere."

She questioned why he didn't try to locate in the vacant former Tim Horton building on Camden Street.

Crockett said that property is within 500 feet of the lot where the Pen Bay Christian School is located.

"My patients would enjoy the view," Crockett said of the 266 Main St. location. "It's the same as if they were enjoying a drink or a hamburger."

The first proposed medical marijuana production facility is planned for the former First Baptist Church at 500 Main St.

Nick Westervelt of Westervelt Provisions LLC received approval for his project at the May 17 meeting of the Rockland Planning Board.

He has yet to receive a permit from the City Council and that issuance is caught in a Catch-22 situation. Current state law does not allow the police department to confirm that a marijuana processor has a state medical marijuana caregiver license and results of any state inspection. But the city ordinance requires police to have that information.

A new state law will take effect in the fall that allowing police to access that information.

Westervelt said he hopes to open in six weeks.

Rockland Main Street Inc. conducted a survey in the fall of 2016 in which nearly half the people responding said they did not want a marijuana store in downtown Rockland. The results were 89 opposed, 78 in support and 29 saying maybe. When asked how they felt about a marijuana store being located elsewhere in Rockland, there was more support, with 96 in favor, 60 opposed and 39 saying maybe.

Maine voters approved a referendum by less than a 1 percent margin in November 2016 to make recreational marijuana sales legal, but the Legislature and governor delayed implementation until they developed regulations.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Aug 09, 2018 08:21

lower taxes for citizens...good one.  "They" ALWAYS find away to spend more.

Posted by: Ria Biley | Aug 08, 2018 16:19

Stephen Carroll, I'm with you on this. Why is it taking nearly three years from the time the voters approved the use and sale of marijuana, whether medical or recreational, while the State and local municipal governments dance around the issue? How many liquor-serving establishments are located downtown? Liquor is a known killer, but it puts money into the State's coffers. Marijuana would increase those revenues by millions while lowering taxes for citizens. Let's submit to the will of the people without further delays.


Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 08, 2018 11:24

I do agree with the Mayor.  Don't rush into something like this.  Am I right in thinking that Crockett wants to open two shops here in Rockland?  There is money to be made in this business but  it should be looked at and not rushed into making a swift decision.  It is a big profit business but how many should be enough for the City of Rockland?

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 08, 2018 07:41

Don't first welcome the fox into the chicken coop then later complain when he begins to eat the chickens.

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