WINDHAM — The Town Council Tuesday voted unanimously to implement a moratorium on new permits for marijuana cultivation facilities.

The moratorium is effective immediately and will remain for 60 days. Existing cultivation facilities are not impacted, Interim Manager Barry Tibbetts said, but “any new licensees that come into Windham would not be able to submit a license to the code office until the (proposed marijuana licensing ordinance) has been approved. Once it’s approved, the moratorium would go away.”

“This is not a year-long moratorium, this is not a complete shutdown,” Town Councilor David Douglass said. “This is merely a pause button until this ordinance is complete.”

“I don’t see where this is a true emergency for the health and welfare of Windham residents. This is a taking of rights from property owners,” resident Larry Eliason said. “You’re going after one industry.”

Council Chairman Jarrod Maxfield and Councilor Nick Kalogerakis were absent.

A public hearing and re-enactment vote to confirm the moratorium will be held within 30 days, and the council will also hold a public hearing on the proposed marijuana licensing ordinance. The council hopes to soon implement the ordinance, which will go into effect 30 days after it is approved. If all goes well, the new ordinance will go into effect just as the moratorium is expiring in two months.

Councilors discussed the ordinance’s point system that would be used to award licenses. Some worried that the point system, which includes three categories in which applicants may be awarded points, would result in too many businesses accumulating the same number of points, leading to a lottery deciding which businesses are granted a license.

“There is an 80-90% chance this thing goes to a lottery,” said Joel Pepin, who owns JAR Cannabis Company, which has a medical marijuana retail store in Windham, and owns and manages SJR Labs in Auburn, which produces medical cannabis extracts.

Councilors decided to require a business plan for applicants, which would be awarded points so that there would be a broader range of point totals less likely to require a lottery.

The ordinance will come back before the council for another workshop before final approval.

Also on Tuesday, councilors discussed the town’s 21st century downtown plan, including the installation of smart traffic lights, traffic improvements and bypass options.

Planning Director Amanda Lessard said the plan, adopted in 2013, is a “comprehensive transportation vision for north Windham” that aims, among other things, to create “a renewed sense of place” in the area.

The plan features a variety of changes, including installing raised medians, modifying traffic signals, installing sidewalks and pedestrian signals and revising ordinances. The total cost is $6.78 million.

Phase 1 of the plan, costing $1.67 million, would include installing crosswalk and pedestrian signal equipment as well as six smart traffic signals to alleviate traffic congestion.

Douglass felt that the smart signals would be “a huge waste of time and money” since the area is so congested and said “the only thing that solves these problems is more pavement.”

Tibbetts said the new signals would be “a good move for us,” adding, “you definitely will see some improvements.”

“No one is under the false impression that this is a silver bullet,” Town Engineer Mark Arienti said.

Councilors suggested a variety of other solutions, including extending Manchester Road to meet Route 302 and constructing a bypass.

“If we don’t do something, we’re never going to do anything,” Douglass said.

Tibbetts said the town will pursue the project with the Maine Department of Transportation.

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