BRUNSWICK — Brunswick town officials on Monday corrected a zoning mistake that inadvertently prohibited retail marijuana from setting up shop anywhere in town.

Meanwhile, Brunswick’s two at-large councilors said they hope to see the zoning relaxed further in the future. 

The issue surfaced in May after the planning board tabled the town’s first application for a retail marijuana store, determining that the establishment would significantly and negatively impact traffic around the proposed site at 4 Business Parkway.

According to the ordinance criteria, a proposed use could 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. 

In Brunswick, retail recreational marijuana is only allowed in industrial zones, but according to Matt Panfil, director of planning and development, by nature, a retail store is going to generate significantly more traffic than any industrial use.

“The unintended consequence of the prior conditional use standards effectively zoned adult retail uses out of existence,” Leah Rachin, an attorney representing GJoris LLC said in an email Tuesday. 

Revisions passed unanimously by the council Monday night stipulate instead that traffic will not “be greater than would occur from any uses designated as a permitted use or conditional use within the same zoning district.” 

It also dictates that the proposed use will not “impose an unreasonable burden” on existing or planned municipal services, utilities or other necessary facilities and will “further the planning goals of the adopted Town of Brunswick Comprehensive Plan.” 

Since the original application was tabled and not denied, Rachin said DiPersia’s application can proceed now that the criteria have been amended. 

The new language will go into effect in 30 days and to apply under the new criteria they will have to put in a new application, Panfil said. 

Though the changes concern all businesses seeking a conditional use permit, the matter only came up because of retail marijuana, councilor Kathy Wilson said, and “the bottom line is we’re talking about whether we’re going to allow a recreational marijuana store. We know why this came up.”

“We worked ourselves into our own corner,” she said. “We brought ourselves into this by being too restrictive.”

Ideally, Wilson would like to see cannabis retail zoned the same way as alcohol, and said it put an unfair burden on marijuana retailers. 

“If we told someone selling wine or beer that was the only place they could sell it, everybody would be up in arms,” she said. “People don’t think of this as a legal thing and it is.”

“We’ve worked ourselves into our own corner,” she added “Somehow we have to allow this to happen.” 

Councilor Dan Ankeles agreed, calling the issue “completely over-stigmatized.” 

“I know we’re talking about conditional uses but we’re already in the wrong direction when it comes to zoning for cannabis sales,” he said, adding that the conversation could be “a great segue into a complete reconsideration into what a previous council did,” referring to the marijuana ordinance passed in 2018. 

Despite legalizing it nearly four years ago, it will still be another two months before Maine will open its recreational marijuana market to public sales, the Portland Press Herald reported last week. The Maine Office of Marijuana Policy will announce its first round of fully licensed testing labs, cultivation facilities, manufacturing plants and retail stores on Sept. 8. They can open Oct. 9. 

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