OXFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously Thursday night to amend a revised marijuana ordinance, which puts no limits on the number of dispensaries and allows retail businesses, but prohibits social clubs.

A special board meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 24 to discuss the amendments, as well as proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to allow and regulate medical and adult-use marijuana facilities.

Selectmen also scheduled a special town meeting for 6 p.m. March 4 for residents to weigh on the issues. It will be held at the Oxford Elementary School on Pleasant Street.

The vote Thursday night followed a public hearing where more than a dozen residents and business owners spoke on the prohibition and repeal of adult-use marijuana and the proposed ordinance changes.

The original ordinance, passed in June of 20128, regulated medical marijuana businesses and banned retail recreational marijuana businesses and social clubs.

Last fall, at the request of stakeholders looking to operate cannabis facilities in Oxford, the town’s Ordinance Review Committee recommended the ordinance be updated to reflect state laws surrounding the industry.

On Feb. 4, selectmen approved the committee’s recommendations to revise the ordinance and scheduled Thursday’s public hearing.

Most who spoke in favor of updating the ordinance had financial interests, representing both larger-scale and ‘mom and pop’ type shops.

A few residents stated they were against repealing the prohibition on such businesses.

Owners of the former Burlington Homes manufacturing plant on Route 26 said they are anxious to launch their business there at 620 Main St.

“We bought it four years ago with the plan to develop it into a grow facility,” owner Matthew Tuttle said. “Much to our dismay, three years ago the moratorium went into place. We’re building as a medical facility to start and hope to expand to the retail market. I appreciate considering the prohibition in this town.”

Nicholas Morton, who has been a licensed medical marijuana producer since 2015, said he is planning a 48,000-square-foot facility and expects to employ more than 40 people. He didn’t say where he planned to operate.

“Our (business) will create jobs in the range of $15 to $22 an hour,” he said. “It’s about gross domestic product. In other words, we need to make things.”

Aaron Pastor, co-owner of property at 7 Oxford Homes Lane and one of those who requested that Oxford officials revisit the ordinance, also spoke in favor of its repeal and amendments. He thanked them and asked for clarification on setbacks.

Pastor cited one section of the revised ordinance, saying, “I don’t believe it’s intended to apply to marijuana established sites within the same building or parcel of land. Typically towns that want revenue from the licenses would allow multiple businesses in one building or campus. The way the section reads, it says marijuana businesses can’t be within 500 feet of another. That would mean one per space.”

Pastor said his interpretation was that the language had been written to allow many on the same land but he wanted confirmation of that.

Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey agreed that the intent was not to limit the number of facilities to one per parcel.

“We strongly support the town of Oxford allowing adult-use businesses here,” Pastor said. “I think it will contribute a lot of revenue to the town, bring good, well-paying jobs and help local businesses.”

Roger Wulleman, who was a member on the original Adult Use Marijuana Committee that drafted the ordinance that was approved, asked why the repeal seemingly removed restrictions to contain the scope of retail marijuana.

“I talked to several towns in regards to retail marijuana,” Wulleman said. “Norway said no. South Paris is not accepting anything at this time. Gray, no.”

“We want to go unlimited? he asked. “Where did the committee get this from? They could have gotten all these ordinances and looked at the best part of them and created their own. That didn’t happen.”

Wulleman also questioned why the proposed amendment reduces the minimum distance between a marijuana business and houses of worship from 500 feet to 250 feet.

Following the hearing selectmen began the regularly scheduled board meeting to discuss the questions raised by speakers, including property versus building setbacks, application and license fees and hours of operation.

Selectmen voted to amend distance for setbacks in the ordinance so that the setback distance for a marijuana facility to day cares, methadone clinics or another marijuana facility would be 500 feet door-to-door. The setback distance for a marijuana facility to private residences and houses for religious worship would be 300 feet door-to-door.

The setback distance for marijuana facilities is already to not be located within 1000 feet of the property line of an existing public or private school, as per state law.

All applications for marijuana facilities require a $500 fee. Additional, annual fees for approved applications that must be paid before the town will issue a license include $5,000 for a retail store and $2,500 for a manufacturing facility or a marijuana testing facility.

Adult use cultivation will be divided into a four-tiered structure based on square footage, with the annual fees ranging from $1,000 – $5,000. The annual fees for medical cultivation and adult use cultivations will be $1,000.

Selectmen scheduled the special meeting for Feb. 24 at 6 pm at Oxford’s town office to discuss amendments adopted at Thursday night’s hearing and meeting on the proposed Oxford zoning ordinance amendments to allow and regulate medical and adult-use marijuana facilities.


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