WOODSTOCK — In a busy meeting last week, Woodstock selectmen agreed to consider a possible “opt in” proposal for the town for adult use marijuana businesses, earmarked money for engineering design of a new bridge or culvert to replace the old Bacon Bridge one, approved funds to purchase tracks for the Fire Department’s 6-wheeler, and suspended for this year an enhanced mutual aid fire agreement with West Paris.

Sam Cote and Angela Bailey, who have been raising medical marijuana on the property in recent years, asked for an article on the March town meeting warrant regarding opting in on adult use marijuana.  With laws changing, they were concerned about their ability to continue to raise it. Cote also said that with the growing popularity and demand for adult use marijuana, the future of medical marijuana businesses may be in doubt. He said he would like to have the option eventually of going into the adult use marijuana business.

Selectmen said that a proposed ordinance for governing marijuana businesses would need to be available for voters to review as part of an opt-in vote, in order that residents know what approval would entail. They agreed to set up a workshop with Cote and Bailey to talk details. In the meantime Town Manager Vern Maxfield said he would contact Bethel about its ordinance for reference, while Cote said he would gather information he has researched so far on the issue. The selectmen speculated the timeline for an ordinance process would likely be at least six months, with a committee doing the work.

Currently, Woodstock ordinance bans adult use businesses but allows medical use.

The board also discussed further how to deal with the aging Bacon Bridge culvert on the Old County Road. It has been posted by the state. The town had obtained a $23,000 estimate for engineering for the project, which could be either construction of a true bridge or the use of a 25 x 9 arch culvert, either of which would allow for the removal of the posting status. Seeking to save money in anticipation of a large construction cost, the board voted to take $25,000 that had been earmarked for paving the town’s public safety building parking lot on Route 232 and re-allocating it toward the engineering costs and preparations for putting the project out to bid. They also approved taking $5,000 from the Roads Account for the same purpose. They talked in general terms about whether to bond the project itself, raise the money in taxes or some combination. The board tentatively plan a public hearing on the project March 3.  The timeline for possible town action on a proposal, and the timeline for construction, is still up in the air.

Selectmen approved taking $5,647 from the Spruce Mountain Tangible Fund (Patriot Renewables) to purchase tracks for the Fire Department’s 6-wheeler, in order to allow better wintertime access to remote locations where a rescue or medical call might take place.  Selectman Jeff Campbell proposed simply putting the item on the annual town meeting warrant as a separate article to be paid out of tax money if approved, but it was defeated 2-1. Selectboard Chairman Ron Deegan said he was concerned that the tracks be available right away in case of a need, while approving and spending town money would put off the purchase until next winter season. It was approved 2-1 with Selectman Shawn Coffin also in favor.

The board, on the recommendation of Fire Chief Kyle Hopps and Maxfield, voted to temporarily suspend the town’s enhanced mutual aid fire agreement with West Paris for 2020. Hopps said Woodstock has had daytime available coverage of five to eight people regularly, and they have also been working on in-house projects as part of that.  As a result, a per diem pay arrangement to staff the station has not bee operating since November in either town.

In other business, the board approved an article for the town meeting warrant asking voters if they wish the town to have a solar energy ordinance.  A large commercial solar project is about to be considered by the Planning Board, and the planners want to know if residents would like an ordinance specifically addressing such projects down the road.

Conservation Commission members will attend the Selectmen’s Meeting on Feb. 18 to discuss with the Board about the possibility of purchasing the Buck’s Ledge property to preserve it for public use.

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