SOUTH PORTLAND — Retail marijuana businesses would be relegated to the Maine Mall area and outer Broadway near the Scarborough town line under a preliminary zoning proposal that the City Council will begin reviewing Monday.

Municipal staff members drafted the proposal as a starting point for workshop discussion, South Portland City Manager Scott Morelli said in a memo to the council.

The proposal maps the impact of a “sensitive uses buffer,” which would prevent retail marijuana shops from opening within 1,000 feet of any residential property, school, recreational facility, church, correctional facility, drug rehab center, medical marijuana dispensary or other marijuana retail establishment.

At the same time, Councilor Eben Rose has submitted a separate proposal that asks councilors to consider the “economic potential” of the emerging “green economy” since Maine voters approved recreational marijuana use by a slim margin last November.

The city’s proposed zoning map shows the Maine Mall area and outer Broadway near the Scarborough town line where retail marijuana businesses would be relegated under the proposal.

Rose’s proposal acknowledges that the council could choose “to marginalize and isolate such establishments by imposing a suite of restrictions, such (as) large buffer zones that treat such establishments as if they are radioactive waste dumps (and) serve to discourage such establishments from locating in this city.”

Instead, Rose’s proposal offers the possibility to “allow market forces to govern the shape of the new economy” and impose restrictions similar to those that already apply to retail stores and social clubs that sell wine, malt beverages and liquor.


City officials are developing a wide array of zoning and licensing regulations for marijuana growing, manufacturing, testing and retail operations following the outcome of last November’s referendum. The council last week renewed a six-month moratorium on licensing marijuana businesses but let a similar zoning moratorium lapse.

Meanwhile, legislators are working on a variety of state laws under a statewide moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses that runs through February 2018. While recreational possession became legal in Maine on Jan. 30, the first retail marijuana stores aren’t expected to open until spring or summer of next year.

Under the “sensitive uses buffer” before the South Portland council, retail marijuana shops would be limited to six areas:

 On either side of the Maine Turnpike, near the Maine Mall.

On either side of outer Broadway, near the Scarborough town line.

At the foot of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, where a fuel tank farm is located.


At the tip of Turner Island in the Fore River, where fuel tankers unload.

At the tip of a peninsula beside the Casco Bay Bridge that is owned by the Central Maine Power Co.

On a small triangle of land on Jetport Plaza Road, near Staples and the Portland International Jetport.

In his memo to the council, Morelli emphasized that “staff is not recommending this ordinance per se, but it does provide a framework for you to consider when discussing this issue Monday night.” Staff members working on the proposal include the assistant city manager, planning director and police chief.

The proposal notes that “staff generally envisions a licensing scheme similar to that required of establishments serving alcohol or other types of businesses commonly requiring a license from the city.”

Maine is among eight states, plus the District of Columbia, where adults can legally grow, possess and use marijuana for personal, recreational use. Maine is also one of more than two dozen states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at:

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