Pine Tree Glass Art is 700 feet from Nurturing Vines Daycare. Having the setback now down to 500 feet will help Pine Tree Glass Art’s business. Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler

BETHEL — At Monday’s special town meeting voters approved amending Chapter 46 of the Bethel Town Code to “reduce the setback from adult use marijuana retail stores and medical marijuana caregiver retail stores to pre-existing daycare centers from 1,000 feet to 500 feet.”

The article passed with some opposition.

Resident Bob Everett asked if anyone from the Ordinance Review Committee would address why they opted for 1,000-foot setbacks. Everett also wondered if they chose the setback distances based on what other towns did.

ORC member Mary Scanlon said the committee tried to stay consistent with the setbacks they chose for Crescent Park School and Telstar Middle/High School.

Jessica Badone, who owns Pine Tree Glass Art on Route 2, said that most people she has spoken with are comfortable with the change. Badone filed for a petition in January, collected the required signatures and brought the amendment to the town.

Resident Rick Whitney said voters need to think about “protecting our youth” and also noted that marijuana is still a federally illegal drug.

Resident Sarah DeCato echoed Whitney’s thoughts on shielding the town’s youth.

“We have a responsibility as a town to protect our youth and that includes our schools, rec parks and childcare facilities,” DeCato said. “We know the marijuana industry targets our youth. This is not about adult consumption.”

“I think small business is the backbone of our community and that we need to support them,” resident John Harvey said.

Resident Kate Roberti said the town should stand behind Pine Tree Glass Art, noting that they have been around a while and have always had shown strong support for the community. Roberti also thought that the numerous health benefits marijuana has should be taken into consideration by voters.

Other business

The town also approved three more articles on the warrant, which included taking $40,000 from undesignated funds to fix a mistake on the tax commitment.

Residents also approved taking $68,000 from undesignated funds for the Route 26 lower Main Street sidewalk project. Town Manager Loretta Powers said the town has already saved $52,000 for this project, but needed additional funds to get the on the Maine Department of Transportation’s plan in 2022.

The sidewalk will start near the Chadbourne Tree Farms building on Main Street and stretch down to Cross Street.

Lastly, residents approved authorizing “municipal officers to make applications for, accept and expend on behalf of the town of Bethel all gifts, grants, or other funds as may now hereafter be available or forthcoming.”



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