OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The planning board has recommended an ordinance change that would allow medical marijuana growing facilities in three zones, including the location where a resident has proposed such a business.

Over the summer, Pierre Bouthiller proposed a medical marijuana research and growing facility at 60 Saco Ave., the site of a former post office. Since then, the town established a moratorium for medical marijuana growing facilities, to allow time to create an ordinance to regulate them.

Town officials consulted legal counsel and Marietta D’Agostino, the program manager of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program, in creating the proposal, said Town Planner Jeffrey Hinderliter.

On Thursday night, the planning board voted 3-1 to recommend to the town council an ordinance that would allow medical marijuana growing and research facilities in the General Business 1, General Business 2 and the Planned Mixed Use Development districts.

The planning board had originally looked at a proposal that would only allow such facilities in the GB-1 district, and would have excluded the location of Bouthiller’s proposal, which is in the GB-2 district.

Planning board member Win Winch voted in opposition to the proposal, and said he could not support a medical marijuana facility in the GB-2 district because of how densely populated the neighborhood is and potential odor issues.

The proposed zoning change, like any ordinance change, needs final approval by the town council to go into effect. The issue will go before the council at a later date.

“The council is the ultimate decision-making board,” said Hinderliter.

Should the council pass the suggested ordinance change, any proposed medical marijuana production facility would have to go through the planning board, and meet specific requirements for approval, including regulations concerning its distance from schools and other medical marijuana production facilities, as well as regulations for the outside appearance of the facility.

When asked for a comment after the Thursday night’s decision, Bouthiller said, “it’s a very solid step forward.”

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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