PARIS — A request to convert a medical marijuana growing establishment by caregivers to a medical marijuana dispensary cleared its first hurdle Wednesday when the Planning Board unanimously approved its plans.

Gary Mayer of Paris presented plans to the board two weeks ago on establishing a dispensary at Paris Hill Farms at 783 Park St. The property is being used to cultivate medical marijuana by caregivers. There would be no retail sales at the dispensary, Mayer said, and the existing leases with the caregivers would end.

Mayer is one of three owners of Bay Street Acquisitions, which also owns Paris Hill Farms. The other two owners are Douglas Knickrehm and John LaRochelle, both of Durham. The next step in the process is to seek approval from the state to operate the dispensary.

During Wednesday’s public hearing, resident Rick Little questioned the legality of the operation since the town does not have a retail marijuana ordinance. He said it was his understanding that the town needed a marijuana ordinance before it could approve the request by Paris Hill Farms.

The town rejected a proposed retail marijuana ordinance in October 2020 during a special town meeting.

Mayer and the Planning Board disagreed with Little, pointing to a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance, which the town enacted in 2011.

Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox noted that Town Manager Dawn Noyes had discussed the matter with a staffer at Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments and was told everything was in order.

If the state does require the town to have such an ordinance, the state would step in and stop the process, Mayer said.

According to the application, the 6.2 acre property will have parking for six vehicles. The business does not yet have the required burglar and fire alarms, and camera surveillance system, but was waiting to receive town approval before moving forward.

The state will need to review the application before sending it back to the town for final approval by the Planning Board and the code enforcement officer.

If there are no delays, the dispensary is expected to open by mid-January 2022, according to the application.

The Planning Board also heard a request for a solar farm at the landfill at Norway/Paris Solid Waste facility. While the site is in Paris, the land is owned by the town of Norway, which operates the transfer station.

The applicant, UGE USA INC. of New York City requires approval from Paris before the Norway Planning Board will consider the approval.

The solar array will cover 1.87 of the 4-acre plot. The array will be built on 500 concrete pads.

The board found the application complete and has scheduled a public hearing at its next meeting Nov. 10.

At its last meeting, the board granted approval for another solar project at 566 High St.

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