KENNEBUNK — The Board of Selectmen will hold a public hearing regarding a proposed moratorium on retail marijuana establishments during its meeting tonight.

The recreational use of marijuana was legalized under the Marijuana Legalization Act, which voters approved via citizens’ referendum on Nov. 8.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced Jan. 2 would take effect at the end of January, but Kennebunk Town Manager Michael Pardue said Monday the proposed moratorium will give city officials time to evaluate regulations pertaining to retail pot establishments and social clubs.

“At this point the town is seeking to allow for some time as we see how the state law will ultimately be crafted,” Pardue said. “To my understanding it’s about a 30-page document that accompanies the bill and, under legal guidance, we’re told the parameters of that law are still being defined, and it was recommended we have some time to see the bill, digest that and make educated decisions regarding that matter.”

Under the Marijuana Legalization Act, municipalities are authorized to regulate the number of retail marijuana stores, and the location and operation of such retail facilities, within their jurisdiction.

Kennebunk’s proposed moratorium language states the ordinance will give the city’s administration and planning department time to study the town’s current codes to determine the land use and other regulatory implications of retail marijuana establishments.

The town also says a moratorium is necessary to prevent an overburdening of public facilities that could result from the establishment of such facilities, and to plan for increased traffic that may also come as consequence.

Pardue said tonight’s public hearing will allow residents to voice their opinions about retail marijuana facilities and any concerns they may have. He declined to say, however, how he felt residents would respond to the proposed language.

“I would hesitate to speculate at this time. The board has broached this subject previously and I’d be remiss if I were to anticipate how the public will respond,” Pardue said. “Most people would expect us to do our proper due diligence.”

Pardue wasn’t hesitant to speculate, however, that similar actions may be taken in surrounding communities as the Legislature refines the law voted into the books on Nov. 8. The city of Biddeford last Tuesday voted to uphold its decision to enact a moratorium on retail marijuana facilities for the same reasons, despite having little public input on the matter.

“Certainly we’re seeing many communities are in that same process, and I believe it’s just the desire to form proper due diligence that we move in an educated manner going forward and that’s all this is for,” Pardue said.

Following tonight’s public hearing, the Board of Selectmen will again take up the proposed moratorium in a special town meeting on Feb. 28.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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