OXFORD — The Appeals Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to reverse the Planning Board’s decision to deny a medical marijuana application of HBC LLC and sent the issue back to the Planning Board for reconsideration.

The Appeals Board also voted 3-1 that the Planning Board was incorrect in issuing the third and final marijuana growing permit to Stevenson Enterprises, owner of three buildings at 517 Main St. The Appeals Board believed the Planning Board did not have the authority under the town’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance because the permit did not meet the required 250-foot setback from the nearest private residence.

The Appeals Board decision was reached after more than three hours of testimony and discussion on the administrative appeal by HBC LLC of the permit issued Aug. 10 to Stevenson Enterprises.

HBC LLC also appealed the Planning Board’s denial of its site plan review application for marijuana operations at 7 Oxford Homes Lane.

Attorney Jeffrey White, attorney for Ricky Beaudet, president of ActNow GC Inc., who is leasing the buildings from Stevenson Enterprises Inc., called the Appeals Board decision a possible “violation of due process” for his client.

Beaudet is leasing the property for his plumbing business from Brent Stevenson of Stevenson Enterprises Inc., and planned to purchase the property at 517-519 Main St. and sublet the larger of the three buildings to Americo and Deanna Varallo, who hoped to cultivate medical marijuana in the building.

The marijuana cultivation building was set to receive its final inspection by Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

White said his client never had the opportunity to request a setback variance because they were told that a precedent had already been set by the Planning Board in issuing a medical marijuana cultivation permit to Burlington Homes owner George Schott for a site that did not meet setback requirements.

That setback violation was later corrected at the Burlington Homes building by changing the site of the grow area, but not before ActNow GC Inc. owners were told it would not be an issue in the Stevenson Enterprises Inc. application.

White said his clients “never had the opportunity to ask for a variance. At each meeting they were told, ‘You don’t need to appeal.'”

White said after the hearing that he and his clients will have to determine their next step. An appeal could be made to a court.

Beaudet had no comment after the hearing.

Greg Hamann, manager of HBC LLC, also had no comment but said Corey-Whitman told him the Planning Board will hear his application at its meeting Thursday, Nov. 9.

According to appeal documents filed by HBC LLC, it is proposing to lease a section of a building it owns at 7 Oxford Homes Lane to individual medical marijuana caregivers and recreational marijuana growers, providing those tenants operate within Maine law.

The Planning Board denial of HBC LLC’s site plan review application Aug. 10 was based solely on the unavailability of a medical marijuana grow permit following the board’s 3-2 decision to award Stevenson Enterprises the town’s final medical marijuna permit.

Hamann had asked the Planning Board on Aug. 10 to act on his application – even though there was no permit at the time to give out – in order to give him “standing” in an appeals case.

A move by White and Appeals Board member Clyde Holt to have the board issue another permit to HBC LLC to resolve the issues of all parties was deemed illegal by Appeals Board attorney James Katsiaficas based on the town’s medical marijuana permit ordinance, which only allows for three permits.

The ongoing process to award the third and final medical marijuana permit has been complicated and lengthy but was believed resolved in August when Planning Board members voted to award the permit to Stevenson Enterprises Inc.

The issue ultimately revolved around whether the Planning Board had previously awarded the permit with contingencies or had simply reviewed the application and tabled it in April.

Planning Board Chairman Stuart Davis and member Dennis Fournier, who have both since resigned from the board, voted against issuing the permit. Members Denise Landsberg, Dana Dillingham and Gerald Nicklaus agreed the permit had been awarded to Stevenson Enterprises Inc. at a previous meeting with one contingency concerning security measures.

Nicklaus has also resigned from the board. 

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Oxford Appeals Board members, from left, Joel Haslett, Jocelyn Bradbury and Chairman John Palmer review the Findings of Fact in their decision to remand an application for a medical marijuana growing permit back to the Planning Board for review Tuesday evening.

Attorney Jeffrey White, front, reviews the Findings of Fact in the Oxford Appeals Board decision to send HBC LLC’s application for a medical marijuana growing facility back to the Planning Board for review. Seated next to White is his client, Ricky Beaudet, president of ActNow GC LLC, and Greg Hamann, manager of HBC LLC, seated at left.

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