Voters will decide in November

BAR HARBOR—The Bar Harbor Town Council voted 5-2 to recommend voters reject the marijuana licensing ordinance.

The licensing is one of two citizens’ petitions about marijuana that face voters in November. The other if passed would allow marijuana retail stores in several Bar Harbor districts.  Licensing ordinances require a recommendation from the town council; this recommendation is then printed on the warrant.

Councilors Matthew Hochman and Jeff Dobbs voted to recommend the ordinance while Councilors Joe Minutolo, Jill Goldthwait, Erin Cough, Valerie Peacock, and Gary Friedmann voted to not recommend it pass.

Hochman said the petitioners’ answers at the Bar Harbor Warrant Committee the week before made him more comfortable with the licensing and worried what would happen if voters approved the land use ordinance change that allowed marijuana retail use in some districts but didn’t approve this separate measure about licensing.

During the discussion Minutolo asked what happened to the marijuana license if the owner of the license decided to stop doing business: would the license get sold by the owner or go back to the town to re-license? This echoed some of the concerns of Seth Libby, warrant committee chair, during that committee’s meeting last week.

Cough and Goldthwait also indicated their concerns about the licenses transferring with the business’ sale, saying that lobster licenses and alcohol licenses are not transferable.

Philip Payne, general manager of Tree of Life Day Spa, who has been speaking on behalf of the effort along with Derrick Harrison, said the license would be sold with the business if the business was sold, but if the people did not sell the business, then the marijuana license would go back to the town to be sent out again through the licensing process. Currently, he said, only Maine residents and corporations can have a license. However, Councilor Goldthwait and Town Manager Kevin Sutherland said that residency requirement had been dropped and licenses are no longer restricted to Maine residents and corporations.

Cough and Goldthwait also worried that all the restrictions about the shops’ locations that had been in the last petition (which voters rejected) were not in the proposed ordinance this time, saying that without those local restrictions the stores could potentially be next to the town green or near the YMCA.

Goldthwait also mentioned her worries about the state’s requirements that marijuana retail stores must have twenty-four hour lighting, saying, “We have references to the dark skies in our ordinances and now we are requiring this to be lit up all night long, which is contrary to our comprehensive plan.”

Payne said that he was also a proponent of dark skies and that there are some dark-sky compliant lighting that businesses could use.

Hochman said that there could be a moratorium if the local marijuana ordinances pass and then the town could put in restrictions prior to the licensing to help quell the potential problems other councilors discussed.  Land use ordinance amendments and other ordinances are effective 30 days after the voters’ decisions.

At the November election, the voters will determine whether or not the licensing program for retail marijuana stores passes.


For an earlier story about the marijuana petition, which shows and explains the zones where it would be allowed if it passes, click here.

For an earlier story about the Warrant Committee’s vote, click here.

The council agenda and packet of information for the August 16 meeting. This includes the full text for potential warrant items at the November town meetings.

To check out the town zoning map, check here.

The town’s land use ordinance.

Law Insider.

Bar Harbor’s Tax Maps.

Bar Harbor’s Zoning Maps.  

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