City Council Begins Discussions on Marijuana Grow Operations

By Kaileigh Deacon


On Thursday, August 28 the Calais City Council met following the Property Committee. After the meeting was called to order and the previous minutes and consent agenda approved, they opened with the first of two public hearings. 

The first public hearing was a General Obligation Bond Ordinance in the amount of $888,000 for the Manning Street grant loan package. This is a water/sewer and water project. $159,000 of the money is a grant and the rest is a loan. The council approved the bond unanimously. Councilor Marcia Rogers brought up a concern in relation to the work on Manning Street. The greenhouse on Manning Street, Growing Concern, has lost business due to the construction during what would be their busiest time. 

The Second Public Hearing was for a Liquor and Special Amusement Permit for Just South of the Border, which was approved with Billy Howard opposed. 

Two committees met recently and their findings were presented at the council. The Finance Committee held a meeting recently to review the Revolving Loans. They want to working on tightening up on how the loans are distributed and collected. They want to look at seizing collateral when needed and reporting bad debt to the credit bureau. The Economic Development Committee also met to discuss the future of the International Homecoming Festival. It was agreed that workshops need to held throughout the year to figure out where they want the festival to go and how they can contribute. 

The CDRC is gearing up for their annual October Halloween events, starting with the scarecrow decorating contest which will be on-going throughout October. Other annual Halloween events, including the casket race, will take place on October 28. 

The city has been seeking bids on a new plow. The accepted bid was from Bangor Truck Equipment in the amount of $49,000 to come from the undesignated fund balance. The council also sought bids on a new police vehicle. They awarded the bid to Pratt Chevrolet for an equipped truck in the amount of $36,700. 

Per the recommendation of a Property Committee Meeting held prior to the City Council Meeting, the council agreed to send the painting of the trim at the library out to bid. They also agreed to accept the money from Sydney Unobskey in the amount of $21,000 to help with the cost of the restoration of the tennis courts, agreeing to name the courts after his brother in doing so.

The final item under old business was Calais Regional Hospital at the request of Councilor Mike Sherrard. Sherrard made a statement to the council: “I would like to restate, for myself, my lack of confidence in the hospital Board of Directors and the decisions that have been made recently. I would like to renew my call for transparency and openness from the Board of Directors and I would like to renew my request for a change in the bylaws to get communities more involved in the Board of Directors and more representative of the communities that they serve. And I would like to state again, as a critical component of this community, Calais Regional Hospital has an obligation to be a good steward to the surrounding area and its employees. But, in turn, the communities that are served by Calais Regional Hospital have an obligation to not only use the facility whenever possible but to support them whenever possible, and this is extremely hard to do when we are kept in the dark.” A community meeting regarding the hospital will be held on Wednesday, August 30 at 6 p.m. at the Wabanaki Cultural Center.  All are welcome to attend. 

Moving into new business the council approved a TIF Credit Enhancement Agreement with the Dollar Tree, compensating them for additional expenses experienced during construction. They also agreed to solicit bids for winter salt and sand as well as gas and diesel bids. They approved the use of the Triangle Park by local churches for a guest speaker and the use of the waterfront for the Riverfront Arts and Crafts Festival. 

The Council also started discussions on Marijuana Grow Operations in Calais. Current ordinances have gaps when it comes to this, City Manager Jim Porter explained. It has elements of being both agricultural and manufacturing, but doesn’t exactly fit either. The city has started talking with other towns that have similar operations to figure out what they need to do to go forward. The idea is that growers could lease space in buildings and the city could see some of the empty buildings rented. Code Enforcer Tim Krug is staying in contact with other municipalities to stay ahead of the upcoming changes. 

Calais is also working on partnering with Baileyville on two different considerations. First, the council agreed to sign an inter-local agreement between the two municipalities to create a Utility Board around the proposed Fiber Optic project. They also have discussed having a joint workshop with Baileyville on school consolidation. No definitive date has been set for a workshop yet, though the School Liaison Committee will meet prior to the School Board Meeting on September 6 to discuss the topic. 

For the last five years Duty Free Americas has donated the Fireworks for the International Festival. The council wants to recognize the organization for their contribution. 

Road tolls are great fundraisers for many local organizations. Sometimes, however, the road tolls can be a bit dangerous so the city council is looking at ways to make them safer and also to minimize impact on businesses. One way they are thinking of doing this is by restricting the tolls to certain days of the week and only one street. 

Carson Road has had its fair share of trouble lately and some concerned residents are interested in gating the road off to discourage miscreants. It’s unclear on what would be required for this to happen, so it was sent back to the property committee for further consideration. In the meantime the police are doing what they can. 

The Council also considered a request from Phillip Tinker concerning his repayment of his economic development loan. The council agreed to continue accepting the payments conditionally, with the conditions for repayment sent in a letter. If Tinker misses a payment the agreement will be nullified. 

During roundtable, Artie Mingo brought before the council that Glenn Connelly has offered to paint the cemetery sign.