SCARBOROUGH — In August, the Scarborough Town Council will host a public hearing and final vote on amendments to the Marijuana Establishment Ordinance, which includes language on odor mitigation, which has been an issue of concern.

On July 21, councilors spoke in favor of the recommended amendments, having been approved by the Scarborough Ordinance Committee earlier this summer. The changes, if passed, coincide with the first year of slated license renewals for marijuana establishments in September, said Assistant Town Manager Liam Gallagher.

“We’re approaching the first year of our completed license process, and through that first year of licensing our marijuana establishments, there are some changes that the ordinance committee really felt were appropriate, given some of the pressing concerns from constituents around odor mitigation specifically, so that’s where the ordinance committee started,” he said. “I think there are some other, more procedural changes that we think make sense for the council’s consideration.”

The proposed ordinance amendments include an expansion of the odor and ventilation standards for licensing approval, requiring medical cultivators to install an activated carbon or equivalent odor mitigation system with a minimum exchange rate of 10 CFMs per hour, Gallagher said in an email.

Other establishments with increased probability to emit odors will be required to install the technology as well, according to the ordinance draft. Both the establishment and property owner would be responsible for meeting odor mitigation standards.

Gallagher said, “What these changes try to enact is establishing some enhanced odor mitigation system standards as well as trying to address the responsibility of when those odor mitigation systems aren’t as successful as they need to be, so we’ve also extended some responsibility beyond just the applicant but also to the property owner.”

The town hired a consultant to assist with mitigating odor, and the proposed ordinance amendments are an implementation of the consultant’s recommendations, said Councilor Ken Johnson.

“I think it looks solid,” he said. “It’s getting better, and I definitely will support this.”

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina, who is chair of the ordinance committee, said she thought the council should approve the amendments.

“This whole marijuana industry is ongoing, changes and evolution and whatnot,” she said. “The thing I really like about (the amendments) is the odor, attempting to get after that odor issue. I strongly recommend that we approve this.”

Other proposed changes to the ordinance are an incorporated renewal process for applicants that would not require council action as well as a mechanism for mid-license changes that would not require the establishment to file a new license application, Gallagher said.

“I think that one important thing that we have retained in these changes is that either the town manager or council chair can bring forward a renewal application for council consideration if there are some overarching concerns or really for any reason at all,” he said. “They would retain that ability.”

Gallagher provided examples of minor changes to an existing license that would not require a new license application.

“We’ve received a handful of requests over the last few months from existing license holders who just need to make some fairly small changes to their existing application,” he said. “They may be expanding their footprint or floorplan within an existing facility. It doesn’t include an expansion of their operation, or in the case of the cultivators, it doesn’t represent an increase in canopy or a change their license.”

“Right now,” he said, “that process would require a whole new application with associated fees so we’re looking to provide a more reasonable fee associated with those small changes.”

The council voted to hold a public hearing and final vote during the Aug. 18 meeting. Town Manager Tom Hall brought forward the suggestion.

“Given the fact we do have the first wave of renewals coming in September, staff, I think, sees the value of having this in place sooner than later,” he said.

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