LISBON — The Town Council elected Allen Ward as chairman and Chris Brunelle as vice chairman Tuesday night, before a 40-minute discussion about zoning medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial and industrial areas.

A public hearing on a marijuana ordinance will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Town Office.

It was the council’s first reading of the proposed medical marijuana ordinance, which regulates the location of medical marijuana facilities for those who care for two or more patients.

“This is to reinforce our Code Enforcement Officer (Dennis Douglass) who already regulates these zones,” Planning Board member Donald Fellows said. “These zones haven’t been challenged but might be if this (ordinance) doesn’t pass.”

Councilor Kasie Kolbe raised concerns about caregivers who are already outside the commercial and industrial zones who would not be grandfathered if the ordinance passed.

“I’m not OK with voting for it and saying to those caregivers, ‘Sorry you have to shut down,’” Kolbe said.

Under Maine law, a registered caregiver is allowed to provide medical marijuana to five patients, not including him or herself. This means that a husband and wife could together have 10 patients who would be at risk if their caregivers were outside the zones.

“The major concern is coming down to the village area where you have a very dense population, putting up to five patients all in one setting and changing the whole character of, potentially, downtown,” Fellows said.

Audience member Fern Larochelle said he believes these facilities should be regulated like any business.

“This could give a bad stigma to the downtown, so we’re in a tough spot,” Albert said. “We want to protect the caregivers but also future businesses.”

Councilor Kris Crawford agreed that the dispensaries should be looked at as regular businesses.

After the seven councilors and multiple audience members spoke on the issue, the council voted unanimously to pass the first reading of the ordinance and to hold a public hearing.

“Open it up to the people because there are too many questions that remain unanswered,” audience member Larry Fillmore said.

In other business:

* The council passed the second reading of the establishment of the Lisbon Development Committee.

The committee will advise and make recommendations to the council on matters related to revitalization, redevelopment and growth.

The committee evolved from the Route 196 Committee and is structured to facilitate the implementation of the Route 196 Master Plan and to work closely with the Downtown Development Plan.

The committee will consist of seven members who are residents and four associate members who are not residents but who own businesses or pay property taxes in town. All members will serve staggered terms of three years and will be appointed by the council.

* The council approved of Town Manager Diane Barnes and Finance Director Lydia Colston seeking financing for a new loader. The bid was awarded to Beauregard Equipment for up to $167,725.

Tracey Steuber, economic and community development director, was approved to join the Northeast Economic Developers Association board of directors and represent Maine.

NEDA is an organization comprising 11 states and the District of Columbia that provides professional development to its members. The members work in economic development for cities and towns in the Northeast.

“They sought me out,” Steuber said.

The council agreed that it would be a great opportunity to make connections out of state.

“I’m very frugal with my budget,” Steuber said, assuring the council she has enough funds to travel and attend the board meetings.

Steuber has been a member of NEDA since 2006. As a new board member, she will continue her membership and attend quarterly board meetings. She is a member of the Economic Development Council of Maine.

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