New Gloucester voters ban retail marijuana

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NEW GLOUCESTER — Voters at town meeting Monday banned retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs in town.

Two members of a committee tasked with coming up with a townwide ordinance on the issue agreed that the ban could be lifted once state rules governing such establishments were approved to guide the town.

“This issue is extremely important to our quality of life and public safety,” said committee member Richard Maguire, a retired state trooper. “I ask you to keep New Gloucester clean of drugs. Keep our children free. It’s a very serious issue and it affects you. It’s about the children, our children and children’s children.”

Member Peter Bragdon agreed with the ban.

“There will be an ordinance after the state comes up with rules,” he said. “Let the state establish standards.”

For now, retail marijuana establishments, including stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities and testing facilities, and social clubs are banned. 

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In another issue, residents voted 66-44 to approve an ordinance limiting selectmen to three consecutive terms. After an absence of three years, they may run for and hold the office again.

Two members of the board are affected. Vice Chairman Steve Libby’s term ends in 2019 and Chairwoman Linda Chase’s third three-year term ends in 2018.

Libby has served 19 consecutive years.

“I’m obviously opposed to this,” Libby said.

After the vote he refused to comment, but Chase said she was fine with it.

Resident Michael Brakey said he was against the limit.

“Being in a small town, everyone can run for anything,” he said. “That’s the great thing about a small community: majority rules.”

“This moves New Gloucester in a fresh new direction,” said Selectman Stephen Hathorne, who worked on the citizen petition that initiated the article.

Moderator Gary Wood led voters through the 36 articles in three hours.

A zoning amendment requiring Planning Board approval to import materials such as demolition, debris, stumps, tires, asphalt and other waste products for processing was defeated.

“The innocent are punished along with the guilty,” said resident Steve Chandler of Chandler Brothers, a large family-owned tree farm. “We live in a world of recycling. We’ve had a gravel pit in town and practice good forestry on our remaining land. We’ve become experts on the use of stumps that are encircled to protect newly planted young trees. The way this is written is punitive to landowners in town.” 

 
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