POLAND — The Zoning Board of Appeals voted 3-1 Monday night to revoke an after-the-fact permit for a marijuana growing operation near the middle of Poland Spring Country Estates because it is a commercial enterprise in a rural residential zone.

Derick Erickson, who was issued a permit in February by Code Enforcement Officer Nick Adams, was accused of misrepresenting what he was doing in his permit application by saying he was growing vegetables for family use.

Erickson said he had never hidden anything, that he hadn’t broadcast that he was growing marijuana because if it was generally known, it could attract thieves.

“The less people that know, the better,” he said.

He also said the marijuana was for medicinal purposes and was “non-euphoric.”

Erickson said he had all the required state permits and he was growing for another five individuals, allowing him to grow 30 mature plants in his 20- by 60-foot greenhouse at 166 Deerfield Road.

He also noted that no one had knocked on his door and complained to him directly about the odor.

Erickson used the greenhouse for the commercial cultivation of medical marijuana last summer.

According neighbors in the Poland Spring Country Estates Land Owners Association, living next to a marijuana farm hasn’t been a positive experience.

Mark Mottley complained, “It was strong. It was like fifty skunks just sprayed in your yard.”

Other nearby residents agreed that the smell on summer nights made sitting on screened porches most unpleasant.

Stephen Frazier, one of five neighbors who filed for the appeal hearing, said Erickson’s operation was near the center of the residential development, which was approved in 1972 and allowed for houses on lots a little over an acre.

Frazier said there was no secure fencing around the greenhouse.

Steve Strout said the greenhouse was made of plastic sheeting that would be easy for someone to slit with a knife.

Attorney Nicholas Worden pointed out that what Erickson had developed, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, was a commercial operation. In his letter to the board, Worden wrote of Erickson’s Linkedin page, “He describes his cannabis business as growing ‘exponentially.’”

Board member Mark Hyland, who cast the dissenting vote, said marijuana growing was a new type of agriculture not addressed in town ordinance.

It making its decision, the board recognized that Erickson’s operation met the definition of agricultural activity but it is a commercial activity. The board said Erickson was earning his livelihood from it and the permit was done in error because it’s a commercial operation and not permitted in a rural residential zone.


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