MECHANIC FALLS — The Town Council approved changes to three ordinances Monday night, but sent one dealing with food sovereignty back to the Planning Board for further study and exploration.

The decision to postpone action on the Food Sovereignty Ordinance was made by Councilor Raymond Lavoie, who expressed concern that the definition of a farm needs further clarification and specific language.

The ordinance basically states that farmers are free to sell what they grow directly to consumers at their farms. The preamble of the ordinance states that people, “have the right to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods, thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of family farms and local food traditions.”

A total of 79 towns in Maine have adopted a similar ordinance, including three in Androscoggin County — Auburn, Livermore and Wales.

Lavoie, however, said the ordinance needed to specify and clarify the definition of a farm. He questioned whether it should allow someone with just a few plants to sell products from their own home. He called the ordinance “too open ended.”

The other three councilors in attendance — Rose Aikman, Tarsha Downing and John Emery — all agreed and voted 4-0 to send it back to the Planning Board for further deliberations.

The other three ordinances that passed dealt with land use, aquifer protection and emergency disconnect. The Land Use Ordinance featured the most changes from the current policy. Mixed uses can be granted in certain districts, even if street frontage only allows one business, by considering back lots.

The ordinance also now allows home hobbies as an acceptable home occupation. All new industrial and commercial businesses must install a Knox Box for emergency access. Also, people who are not Maine residents will now be allowed to apply for a marijuana facility.

Town councilor retires

In other business, the council accepted the resignation of Chairman Kieth Bennett. The longtime town councilor cited the need to care for his wife, who is recovering from illness.

The four remaining councilors agreed to accept applications to fill the vacancy until the regular election in June. The board is expected to fill the seat at its next meeting April 5. At that time the council will also select a new chairman and vice chairman. Vice Chairman Downing filled in Monday as interim chairman.

The council also approved liquor licenses for Egg-Ceptional Restaurant and the Mill House Pub.

The council met for 27 minutes in executive session to consider the fate of the property at 22 Pleasant St. The property was once considered a potential location for their town office, a proposal that was approved by the town’s voters in 2017.  The building proved to be too small and the town has attempted to sell the property for more than a year. After the executive session, the board agreed to lease the property to Androvise Realty in Lewiston.

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