BRUNSWICK — It may be some time before retail marijuana sets up shop in Brunswick. 

On Tuesday, the planning board tabled the town’s first application for a retail store after finding that the establishment would significantly and negatively impact traffic around the proposed site at 4 Business Parkway in the town’s business park. 

Michael DePersia, or GJoris LLC, first presented plans to construct a 3,100 square foot, single-story recreational marijuana retail facility within the Brunswick Industrial Park in February. The project proposal includes 64 parking spaces, with the option to expand to 82 if needed. At the time, Planning Director Matt Panfil expressed concern that the parking lot included roughly six times the recommended number of spaces, but DiPersia, said that if anything, he thought it is a low estimate, especially given that it will be one of the only recreational spots in the area. 

Joseph Marden, project manager, said Tuesday that the location, the name of which has not been announced and is not included in meeting materials, is expected to be a regional draw, with more out of town customers than local ones. 

According to the ordinance criteria, the proposed use must not create “significantly more vehicular traffic” than the uses currently within 300 feet of the proposed site or create additional adverse impacts on any use or structure within the same distance. 

According to meeting materials, the facility is expected to generate approximately 158 additional one-way trips during peak hours on weekdays  and 113 during peak hours on Saturdays. Combined with the 94 one-way trips the business park generates during peak hours on weekdays, the facility would create a roughly 168% increase. 

This, as well as the substantial increase in the number of parking spaces, “is indicative of increased traffic beyond a normal retail use, let alone the surrounding industrial uses within 300 feet of the proposed use,” according to town planning staff.  

The project generated controversy from the outset, with representatives from 3 Business Parkway, which is across the street, and of which The Times Record is a tenant, against the location. 

Greg Hastings, one of the owners, said he was concerned about the dramatic increase in traffic, one he said “clearly meets the definition of significant.” Courtney Doherty Oland, president of Guardian Pharmacy of Maine, which also operates out of 3 Business Parkway, shared similar concerns, as well as worries that people might park in the pharmacy’s parking lot, taking up spaces and creating additional pedestrian traffic. 

Also on Tuesday, the Planning Board approved a conditional use permit for a recreational marijuana cultivation site on Bibber Parkway, also in Brunswick Industrial Park. 

While the sites share a project manager,  it is unclear if the two projects are related. 

The decision to table and not deny the request came after board members expressed concerns that the ordinance language would effectively prohibit any retail marijuana in town, though Panfil, said Wednesday that staff were looking into the question. 

In Brunswick, retail recreational marijuana is only allowed in industrial zones, and the uses are not allowed to significantly increase the traffic generated by current uses, but according to Panfil, by nature, a retail store is going to generate significantly more traffic than any industrial use.

Board members worried the town may have inadvertently written retail stores into a corner by making it, as board member Allison Harris said, “close to impossible for them to be built.”

Jane Arbuckle agreed and called it “very troubling” that “we’ve created a situation where in reality, these stores can’t be anywhere.” 

Despite the inconsistencies, chair Charlie Frizzle said the board does not have the legal authority to approve an application that doesn’t meet the requirements.

It “makes the process more difficult than intended, but it’s worded the way that it is and it’s the ule that we have to go by at this time,” he said. 

“As a town we have work to do to figure our way out of this,” Harris said, and suggested bringing the matter before the town council. “We have to figure out how to make it safe and feasible to do that.” 

Representatives from GJoris LLC could not be reached for comment. 

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