Highbrow, a medical marijuana store chain, is looking to open its first recreational marijuana storefront on Leeman Highway in Bath. The owners said they pride themselves on the appearance of their stores, which they likened to art galleries, such as their Topsham location shown here. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Pecorelli)

BATH — The Bath Planning Board did not give site plan approval to what could be Bath’s first recreational marijuana store for a second time Tuesday evening because the site plan application did not include details about landscaping.

Highbrow, a medical marijuana chain with locations in Topsham, Manchester and Waldoboro, is looking to open its first recreational store in Bath on Leeman Highway southbound, next to the U.S. Cellular store.

Business co-owners Jason Brossi, Noah Rosen and Charles Doherty said this would be the company’s first recreational marijuana store. They’re also interested in expanding into the U.S. Cellular building next door to house a medical marijuana store in the future.

“The Planning Board determined the application was not complete because we did not have evidence of a landscaping plan,” said Ben Averill, Bath’s city planner. “That was the only thing the board felt like they were missing.”

“(The planning board) wants to see the landscaping done first,” said Doherty. “Unfortunately, Bath has ordinances in place that says the plants you put in need to be reviewed by the town arborist.”

Doherty said he was hoping to gain approval on Tuesday so construction on the building could begin.

“The building has been vacant for over a decade and it’s a pretty big eyesore,” said Doherty. “I think just about everyone would appreciate something different than what’s there now.”

The owners could appear before the Planning Board as early as next month in the hopes of gaining planning board approval.

“Every site has its challenges,” said Doherty. “This is the way Bath wants us to do it.”

The owners first appeared before the Planning Board last month but were denied approval after board members found holes in their formal application.

“For example, we could see they had enough parking, but we had questions about landscaping and traffic flow,” Averill said last month. “For their particular project, there were some staff questions that the applicant needs to address.”

Doherty said the chain’s Topsham and Manchester locations, which opened in September 2017 and July 2018, respectively, received planning board approval at their first presentations. Their Waldoboro location, which was the first to open in April 2017, required a second presentation.

Should the store gain site plan approval next month, it will still need to obtain both local and state retail licenses. Doherty said he has applied for both licenses and is waiting for approval.

Highbrow remains the only business that has applied for a recreational marijuana retail license from Bath, according to Averill.

Earlier this month the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy announced state license applications are open to business owners.

The process of becoming licensed in the State of Maine’s adult-use marijuana program takes three steps: conditional licensure, local authorization, and active licensure, respectively.

In early November, the Bath city council unanimously approved fees for the different types of local marijuana licenses, which went into effect on Dec. 1. A cultivation facility license is set at $750, a product manufacturing facility license is $500, and licenses for retail stores and testing facilities are $1,500 and $500, respectively.

According to Bath’s retail rules, recreational and medical marijuana stores will be required to install security measures, including 24-hour surveillance, and passers-by shouldn’t be able to smell marijuana from outside the building.

Bath’s rules also set a 500-foot buffer around schools, licensed childcare facilities, public parks, substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment centers and halfway houses. No two retail stores and dispensaries can open within 300 feet of each other.

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