Selectmen Gary Wight (left) and Jim Largess look over the planning board ordinance. The planning board ordinance was the first of the three ordinances discussed at the Aug. 13 public hearing. Discussion on the ordinance lasted less than five minutes. Samuel Wheeler

NEWRY — Most of an Aug. 13 public hearing at the Newry Town Office focused on the two marijuana ordinances (marijuana store and medical marijuana retail store) that will be voted on by town residents in September.

Selectman Jim Largess shared his thoughts on the medical marijuana retail store ordinance, which is nearly identical to the marijuana store ordinance. Largess referred to a packet handed out at the meeting, which contained information on the ordinance.

Largess suggested keeping a distance of 1,000 feet from the property line of pre-existing private and public schools. Although the state does not have a specific standard for medical marijuana stores, Largess thought it would be best to stay consistent with the “marijuana store” ordinance which has a setback of 1,000 feet.

The only school in Newry currently is the Eddy School.

Section F, under “licensing procedures” was discussed next.

Under section F, it says that “No Local License shall be granted by the Local Licensing Authority until the Police Chief, the Fire Chief, the Health Inspector and, if applicable, the Code Enforcement Officer, have all made a positive recommendation upon the Applicant’s ability to comply with this Ordinance.”

“We’re a little short on a police chief and health inspector,” Largess said. “We’re going to present it to our lawyer but we are talking about local law enforcement.”

Largess said that it would be someone from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department.

“The fact that there’s background checks on everyone involved, so doesn’t that kind of negate that,” Bethel resident John Amaan wondered. “If you have all the licenses, security and everything else you’re supposed to have what do you hope to accomplish by going to the sheriff?”

“As an applicant it’d be nice to know what exactly the police department or sheriff would be looking at in their scope of work along with what other inspectors would be reviewing,” business owner Joel Pepin said.

Pepin owns JAR Cannabis Co. in Newry, which opened by appointment only in November 2018. It has since opened to the public.

“Before we’re going to give you an approved license, we’re going to have assurance from the planning board that you have gone through the proper procedures,” Town Administrator Amy Bernard said. “We have to have everything in place before we can get you a license from the town of Newry.”

Largess wondered if this included stores that are pre-existing.

Bernard said she was unsure, but thought that if that once the town opts in, and there is an ordinance “on the books”, that the store would have to comply.

“I think we would take them as a new license, because they do not have a town license,” Bernard said. “If you’re going into a pre-existing retail store, my understanding is that retail is retail and that you are not going to the planning board for a site plan review because that building was already a store. It’s when you’re going to build a new store or you’re turning a home into a store.”

The town plans to consult with their attorney and at Largess thinks it could be “put to it to a vote” at their September 17 meeting.

People who want more information on the ordinances can view complete copies of them at the Newry Town Office.

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