City Council Approves Zoning for Marijuana Growing Operations

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

The Calais City Council met on Thursday, September 28. The council held a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the land use codes. The change would allow agricultural operations to take place in areas that are zoned for commercial use. The amendment was brought forward specifically with commercial marijuana growing operations in mind, but would not restrict other forms of agriculture.  

The council recognized that there are still discussions to be had concerning marijuana grow operations and how they would be regulated in Calais. There was discussion around what possible regulations and criteria would be put in place during the planning process, including licensing fees, restrictions on where growing operations could be located and possibly additional taxes. 

The council unanimously approved the change to the land use codes which would allow agricultural operations in a 1, 2, and 3 zones, industrial 1, 2, and 3 zones and residential 4 zones. The council also sent the topic of marijuana grow operations to the Economic Development Committee to look at how the operations would impact the city and what criteria would have to be implemented before approval.

The council also approved the bids for the salt and sand for this winter as well as awarding the bid for the docking facility pump station. The bid for salt and sand went to Sunrise Sand and Gravel for $22,250 which is $240 over their bid for last year. The bid for the pump facility is roughly $1,000 above budget but would included additional work that wasn’t in the initial budget. The additional work would include the installation of a new conduit that would allow for the installation of cameras as well as including the replacement of broken conduits. City Manager Jim Porter will get back to the council on whether the increase in the budget will require a change order. 

Two public hearings have been scheduled. One hearing is for the dark fiber utility and will be held on October 26 during the regular council meeting. Per City Manager Jim Porter the council can borrow the necessary funds for the project up to $2 million, without holding a public referendum. The council indicated that it wished to do so. The council will move the meeting next door to the St. Croix No. 1 Firehouse. The public is welcome to attend to voice their opinion or if they have questions about the dark fiber utility. The other public hearing was scheduled for the November 9 meeting concerning some dangerous buildings.

Last meeting Councilor Eddie Moreside and Public Works Director Skeet Seelye brought to the attention of the council that they would be losing a public works employee by the end of the year. They asked that the council allow Public Works to hire a replacement for the employee who will be retiring at the end of the year. The city council approved the increase of the Public Works budget for the remainder of the year to allow for the hiring of the new employee. By hiring the person now, they allow time to make sure the person is trained prior to the busy winter season. The approval was unanimous. 

The next city council meeting will be held on October 12 at 6:00 p.m. in council chambers.