Board: Lewiston City Council

Met: Tuesday


Issue:  Businesses from outside Lewiston occasionally set up
shop in the city, buying and selling antique or other used goods. After
operating for a few days, the businesses leave Lewiston and move on to
other communities. Unlike traditional pawn shops, these kinds of businesses are not
regulated by city ordinance, meaning the city cannot collect fees for
licenses from those businesses.

The Scoop: Councilors voted in favor of clarifying the city rules to
close that loophole on first reading at their Jan. 19 meeting. That would require those short-term businesses to register
with the city and
purchase a business license.

Up Next: Councilors voted on second reading to approve a change
to the ordinance.

Parking ticket grace

Issue: City councilors last year voted to end the practice of
forgiving the first downtown parking ticket of the year. In the past,
it’s been the practice of Lewiston police to forgive one parking ticket
if it’s returned with a letter of explanation. 

The Scoop: The decision to end that practice passed council
muster, but it was never enacted. City Administrator Ed Barrett asked
councilors Tuesday to reaffirm that decision, ending the practice. It
should let the city trim $10,000 from the budget.

Up Next: Councilors voted on first reading Tuesday to end the practice. They’ll take the matter up a final time at the Feb. 16 meeting.

Marijuana moratorium

Issue: Voters approved the sale of medical marijuana at the
polls in
November, but the new law doesn’t include specific rules on how the
sales should be handled. A task force appointed to create some of those
rules passed that responsibility off to the state Legislature. The city
has already been approached by one person asking about opening a
marijuana dispensary.  

The Scoop: Staff suggested creating a moratorium until
legislators can come up some rules and the city can draft some zoning
ordinances to control where the medical marijuana distributors can

Up Next: Councilors voted to approve the moratorium, giving them
until July 22 to come up with zoning changes and policy. Barrett said
he expects the state to release recommendations in June.

Homeless shelter

Issue: Brunswick-based Tedford Housing plans to begin work on
two projects in Auburn and Lewiston this summer. In Lewiston,  they
plan to renovate a building at the corner of Pine and Blake streets for
homeless families, creating a 10-unit development.

The Scoop: Councilors in 2009 approved using $130,000 in
Community Development Block Grant HOME funds to help the project. In
all, the project is costing $1.5 million to develop. According to a
plan presented to councilors Tuesday, the charity would pay the city 30
percent of the assessed property value in lieu of property taxes. That
comes to about $8,200 this year. The city requested those payments to
help pay for city services such as public works, trash collection,
police and fire protection.  

Up Next: Councilors approved the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

Touting good things

Issue: The Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce is pushing a campaign to remind residents
about the things, places and events that make Androscoggin County
special. The campaign is designed to boost attendance at events and restaurants and encourage people to use area businesses.

The Scoop: Chamber President Chip Morrison presented the campaign to Lewiston councilors Tuesday and urged them to take part. 

Up Next: Chamber members will continue making their pitch to communities in the county and social groups for the next several months.

Liquor licenses

Issue: Local restaurants and bars must reapply for liquor licenses
and amusement permits each year. Liquor licenses permit the
establishments to serve alcohol; amusement permits allow them to play
music, have a DJ, host karaoke or have games on site.

The scoop: Councilors approved new liquor licenses for the
South End Social Club, 315 Lisbon St. and Greco’s Pizzeria, 984
Sabattus St. They renewed a special amusement permit
for the Franco-American Heritage Center, 46 Cedar St.

Next meeting: The next regular meeting of the Lewiston City Council is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Contact government reporter Scott Taylor via phone at 689-2846 or via e-mail at [email protected]

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