BIDDEFORD — The City Council has scheduled the second reading of a proposal to amend the

Biddeford zoning ordinance to allow adult use and medical use marijuana cultivation, testing, and

Biddeford councilors will hold a second reading of a proposal to allow adult use marijuana along with medical use marijuana to be grown, tested and manufactured in the I 1, 2 and 3 zones as conditional uses on Jan. 19. AP File Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

manufacturing in the Industrial 1, 2 and 3 zones as conditional uses for  Jan. 19.  While the proposal allows medical use retail stores in the three zones as a conditional use, adult use retail stores would be prohibited throughout the city.

During a first reading of the proposal on Jan. 7,  the council  spoke about odor complaints, and Council President John McCurry said the city has to come up with a better way of enforcing the rules so neighbors don’t have to smell the odor.

“A $250 fine is not really going to take much off of them,” he said. “Fines need to be heavy.”

Several amendments were proposed — but only one achieved enough votes for passage — a motion by McCurry that there be 500 feet between grow facility buildings.

Grayson Street resident Katie Pinard said there’s a medical marijuana facility in her backyard.

She said the company that owns the business “set a standard of excellence,” when it comes to odor control.

Councilor Marc Lessard wondered what happens if odors aren’t controlled.

“I don’t want us to be known as Skunktown,” Lessard said.

There have been odor complaints about many of the city’s medical marijuana facilities — 30 complaints in the last four to five years, said Codes Enforcement Officer Roby Fecteau, who added enforcement of the odor standards is complaint driven. He said the city recently asked growing operations to install wind devices on their buildings to help city staff capture wind direction when a complaint comes in.

“We do have facilities without odor complaints and facilities with more than one complaint,” said Fecteau. He said a fine was issued to one business “because they just couldn’t get a handle on the odor.”

The city always gives the business owner a reasonable opportunity to rectify the situation, he said, but in one case, months and months had gone by, without success. The courts fined that operation, Fecteau said.

“We’ve already been told there’s a wave certain developers want to catch,” said Councilor Norman Belanger. “If odor is the issue, deal with it … This is good for Biddeford and there is state-of-the-art mitigation; I’m very supportive.”

Councilor Michael Ready said he supports definition changes in the ordinance as required by the state, but not the rest of the proposal, saying it is an issue for the Comprehensive Plan.

Councilor Amy Clearwater noted passage wouldn’t be a big change in the zone, pointing out marijuana cultivation, testing and manufacturing is a light industrial use.

“This seems like a strong ordinance when it comes to odor mitigation,” she said.

Councilor Stephen St Cyr said he’d been neutral until now.

“It is now legal and folks in Biddeford voted for it,” he said of adult use marijuana. “ I tend to think industrial zones are a good place for it.”  He said he shares concerns about the Comprehensive Plan.

There was a move to exclude the I-3 zone, but it failed. McCurry said a growing operation would be new in I-3, and that it abuts a lot of neighborhoods. He said those who live there may not know about the proposal.

A move to remove just growing facilities from I-3 also failed.

The vote in favor of the proposal was 5-4, with councilors Lessard, McCurry, Ready and councilor Robert Quattrone in opposition.

The second reading is scheduled to take place at the online City Council meeting on Jan. 19. Meetings usually start at 6 p.m. Agendas and instructions on how to join meetings are posted at: https://www.biddefordmaine.org/2478/Video-Agendas-Minutes several days before the meeting.

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