The Damariscotta Planning Board will hold a public hearing on a proposal to open a medical cannabis, or marijuana, caregiver’s storefront in downtown Damariscotta next month.
Business partners Ryan Ellis and Mark Ferrero presented their proposal for a storefront at 202 Main St. to the planning board Monday, June 4.
Ellis has been a medical cannabis caregiver for seven years, and is the director of Compassionate Caregivers of Maine.
Ellis has his own, unaffiliated company, Greenport Cannabis Co., that delivers cannabis to customers at their homes. He owns a commercial facility in Richmond where the cultivation takes place.
The shop, which would have the same name as his company, would be a “caregiver’s storefront,” according to Ellis, and would not sell marijuana for recreational use.
“This is allowing safe transactions to take place in a more centrally located space, instead of in a home,” Ellis said.
There would be no on-site production or use of cannabis, and the product would be tested and labeled, according to Ferrero.
“We are looking to be pre-emptive and operate in a transparent space,” Ellis said.
The storefront, which would occupy the first floor of the building, would be a way to reach a larger amount of people, according to Ellis.
While the company will still make deliveries in the area, it is not economical to deliver small amounts of cannabis long distances, thus the need for a storefront, Ellis said.
They have already signed a one-year lease for the space. Attorney David Levesque owns the building.
Planning board alternate Dana Orenstein expressed concern about security.
Ellis said all cash would be removed from the property at the end of the day and no more than 12 1/2 ounces of product would be in the store at any time. When the store is not open, there would only be display pieces in the building.
Ellis said he would not be comfortable installing a security camera due to the stigma surrounding cannabis use.
The store’s tentative hours are Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. or noon to 7 p.m.
There would be no changes made to the outside of the building, according to Ferrero, except for a sign that would meet the town’s ordinance.
The building has six parking spaces and a handicapped-accessible rear entrance.
In response to a question about average daily traffic, Ellis said similar storefronts in Maine usually see between five and 10 customers per day.
“I’m excited to give a personalized level of attention to a community of patients who are underserved,” said Ferrero, who is also a children’s librarian at Skidompha Library.
“This is a burgeoning market … I’m pretty excited to offer it in a visible, downtown, accessible space,” Ferrero said.
There will be a public hearing on the proposal at the town office at 6 p.m. July 2.
Town Manager Matt Lutkus and restroom project manager Travis Pryor, of the engineering firm Wright-Pierce, presented the site plan for the downtown restrooms.
The basic layout of the restroom includes a men’s and a women’s side, according to Lutkus. The women’s room will contain two stalls, while the men’s room will contain a stall and a urinal. Both rooms will have two sinks and a baby changing station.
The building will be granite and red brick, with a town seal on either side.
“It really sets the tone for the backside of the downtown area,” Lutkus said.
Board member Shari Sage asked if solar panels had been considered.
Pryor said they had been, but were determined not to be desirable economically due to the roof size.
Lutkus said the town has received $335,200 in private donations for the restroom project, along with a $16,000 state grant, and has committed $71,000 in town funds.
The board determined that the restroom building complies with town ordinances, but requested that the representatives come back July 2 for approval due to the purchase of the site, formerly home to a barbershop, not being complete.
Lutkus said that the sale agreement should close June 28 or 29, and the plan is to start demolition of the barbershop as soon as possible.
The public works department will demolish the building, according to Lutkus.
The board approved Dr. Thomas White’s application to convert a residence at 105 Church St. into a professional office.
White owns Spine By Design Chiropractic, currently of Newcastle, and plans to move the practice into the new space.
White presented the idea at the board’s May 14 meeting, and was instructed to come back for a public hearing after notifying abutters. There were no public comments during the hearing.
Commercial Properties Inc. CEO Daniel Catlin and Randy Dunton, of the engineering firm Gorrill Palmer, asked the board for their input on the entryway to their planned development at 435 Main St.
The board decided the best option would be to re-stripe Main Street in order to create a center turning lane for motorists turning left into the property.
Valerie Seibel, who presented a preliminary plan for the expansion of a nonconforming house in the shoreland zone at 197 Twin Cove Lane on May 14, was asked to come back July 2.
The board could not determine whether the proposed expansion would be too far toward the water or not, so members of the board visited the site May 24.
The board decided to discuss the proposal further July 2 so all members of the board who visited the site could be present. Vice Chair Wilder Hunt and alternate Jenny Begin were not present at Monday’s meeting.
Board member Neil Genthner Jr. decided to recuse himself from the discussion because he has worked for the applicant.
The next planning board meeting will take place at the town office at 6 p.m., Monday, July 2.