Members Present: Rob Browne, Lauchlin Titus, and Phil Haines
Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Dick Bradstreet, KJ Reporter Madeline St. Amour, Paul Morneau, and Linda Butterfield.
1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Titus at 6:30 p.m.
2. Minutes – On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 11/17/16 meeting as written.
3. Appointment papers – Without discussion, the Board signed the appointment papers for Marianne Stevens, who the Selectmen appointed to a vacant alternate member position on the Planning Board at their last meeting.
4. LED Streetlights – Chairman Titus refreshed the group’s memory that the Board had heard a presentation on this subject last spring from a representative of a company that is performing these conversions to energy efficient LED Streetlights, but the town would then own the fixtures and would be responsible for maintaining them, or contracting with someone to perform that service. Chairman Titus asked Town Manager Sabins to inquire of Central Maine Power if they plan a streetlight conversion project in the future, so that the town would not have to undertake the project on our own.
5. Reports – a. Road Report - On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented. b. Police Report – no report available. Sabins explained the former Chief has retired and the transition to the new chief, Mark Brown, occurred over the weekend. c. First Responders’ Report - On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented.
6. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by P. Haines, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrants #30 and #31.
7. Other – 1. Sabins distributed a tentative list of meeting dates for the upcoming budget season. The list of meetings dates will be updated and distributed as confirmations of attendance by the Superintendent’s office on the proposed dates is received. 2. It was noted that the annual Christmas tree lighting event will be held at Ray Breton’s woolen mill tomorrow night. Other Christmas Spirit events that are happening in town over the weekend were also noted.
8. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the regular Selectmen’s meeting was adjourned at 6:45 p.m. A public forum to discuss how the effect of the new law that recently passed to legalize marijuana in Maine could affect Vassalboro was scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. this evening. The Board waited for Vassalboro residents to enter the meeting room and to be seated before starting the public forum.
PUBLIC FORUM NOTES:
Chairman Titus opened the public forum at 7:00 p.m. and introduced the topic of discussion. On November 8, 2016, residents of the State of Maine passed by a narrow margin, a law to legalize marijuana in the State of Maine. In addition to allowing personal possession and use of the drug, retail shops and social clubs are also going to be legal once the Maine Department of Agriculture establishes the major substantive rules within a nine month timeframe, as prescribed by the new law. Chairman Titus stated that given his experience with working with the Dept. of Agriculture, he does not feel that nine months will be enough time for the rules to be created. Chairman Titus explained that like many other towns in the State now taking action, Vassalboro has the opportunity to react to the new law either by doing nothing and let fate take its course, or we could call a special town meeting to adopt a moratorium to allow the town to make some rules to govern where and how many such marijuana retail shops and social clubs could be located, or we could call a special town meeting to prohibit such shops and clubs altogether. Chairman Titus explained the moratorium process in detail that would give the town 180 days to make some rules to present at a later town meeting for adoption; if the rules were not completed in the original 180 day timeframe, the moratorium could be extended by the Selectmen for an additional six months. Once he gave this information, Chairman Titus then invited the public to speak and ask questions. Of the twenty-eight members of the public who signed the attendance sheet, the first member to speak was Duane Ellis who asked if a town meeting is needed for an ordinance. He stated his opposition to all of it and wants a prohibition on growing and selling marijuana. Several other residents in attendance echoed this sentiment on prohibition. Jim Pfleging stated that he has 30 years of law enforcement experience and told of how such drug activity leads to money laundering and crime, homelessness and thievery. He encouraged the Board to consider prohibition. Discussion was also given about medical marijuana growing facilities that have been legal for several years and how this law will affect them. Several residents in the room stated that they would like to prohibit those growing facilities as well. After all residents that wanted to speak had an opportunity to do so, Chairman Titus summarized the discussion and stated that based on the conversation tonight, he felt the Selectmen would likely propose a Special Town Meeting in the near future and would propose two articles. The first article would prohibit retail shops and social clubs altogether, if that article failed, the second article would call for a moratorium to allow the town some time to make rules where such activity could take place in town. The Board thanked the public for coming to share their thoughts to help give them some direction. The meeting was adjourned at 7:50 p.m.
These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on 12/15/16 with the following amendments: None.