SOUTH PORTLAND — The city council hasn’t finished revising the city’s ordinance on marijuana-related businesses, but one councilor thinks proposed changes will address the growing number of applicants seeking licenses.

Changes include a provision that marijuana businesses must be 1,000 feet away from all so-called sensitive use locations, adding to the current 300-foot distance from a child care facilities, community centers, higher educational facilities, large outdoor recreational spaces and houses of worship.

Such businesses would continue to remain 1,000 feet from schools, while a 300-foot distance would be maintained from from “a minor-oriented business or mental or social health services business.”

The proposal also includes a ban on new licenses in 12 different zoning districts, including the district where the Maine Mall is located and a large district located in the south-central part of the city dedicated to industrial businesses.

As of Jan. 6, according to the planning office, 17 marijuana-related businesses have already received local approval, with 13 pending. The ordinance with proposed amendments is available online at https://bit.ly/340o79Q.

According to Planning Director Milan Nevajda, language added Jan. 5 ensures that businesses with a local license or in the process of getting one will be considered “conforming,” even if those businesses are in parts of the city where licenses are being restricted. In short, Nevajda said, the new rules won’t keep current businesses from growing and the new restrictions won’t be an obstacle to services such as financing.

The council will vote Jan. 19 to make the changes official.

The council has been discussing changes to the 2017 ordinance since September. Initially, they discussed a cap on licenses — similar to those established in 2020 in communities such as Portland — although the amended ordinance doesn’t include a cap.

Councilor April Caricchio said when discussions first began, the concept of a cap came from residents she said were concerned about the growing number of licensees. This week, she said the restrictions on new licenses in certain parts of the city will indirectly act as a limit on the number of new licenses citywide, meaning the city doesn’t have to establish an actual cap.

“I think we achieved the goal, but we got at it differently,” she said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

Email: [email protected]

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