Oxford voters pass pot moratorium

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OXFORD — Voters at a special town meeting Thursday night approved a 180-day moratorium on retail marijuana businesses and social clubs. The vote was 34-7.

There will be no applications accepted, processed or approved for establishing or operating such businesses for the next six months. The ban applies to licenses, building permits, certificates of occupancy, site plan reviews and conditional uses.

Samantha Hewey asked what happens at the end of the 180 days.

“Is the town looking to ban (retail marijuana) indefinitely?” she asked.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Pete Laverdiere said Oxford, like other towns and cities across the state, is “in a conundrum because we don’t know what the rules are, because they are not there yet.”

“In 180 days if we haven’t heard from the state, we will ask for another moratorium until we know what the ground rules are,” Laverdiere said.

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“We have not formed the rules for it as yet,” said state Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford.

Town Manager Butch Asselin said only two inquiries for retail marijuana establishments have been made as of this week and no formal applications have been filed.

The town has issued three medical marijuana grow permits – the limit allowed under town ordinance – but officials stressed that retail and medical marijuana are regulated under different laws.

Voters passed a second article on Thursday’s warrant: an amendment to the Sewer Ordinance to charge interest on overdue bills after 30 days, instead of 120 days.

Ron Kugell was moderator for the meeting, held at the Oxford Elementary School.

Following the town meeting, selectmen met briefly and appointed Gary Morgan as the eighth member of the Budget Committee. There are three more seats to be filled.

The Planning Board needs two members to fill the five-member panel. Alternates are also needed.

The board reaffirmed the establishment of an Ordinance Committee, which includes Asselin, Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman, Chief of Police Jon Tibbetts, Fire Chief Gary Sacco, Town Clerk Beth Olsen and Ed Knightly, representing selectmen.

Roger Wulleman asked that voters be provided with a line item budget from each department. Selectmen said one will be available.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net

State Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, addresses voters at a special town meeting Thursday night at Oxford Elementary School. Residents passed a 180-day moratorium on applications for retail marijuana shops and social clubs because the Legislature has not passed rules for regulating them. (Leslie H. Dixon, Advertiser Democrat)

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