HALLOWELL — The City Council has approved a second 180-day moratorium on recreational marijuana establishments, retail stores and social clubs to allow the city to make changes to its zoning ordinances before the Legislature finalizes rules governing recreational marijuana.
During a special meeting Thursday, the council held the second and third readings of the moratorium and voted 6-1 in favor of an additional 180 days. Councilor Maureen Aucoin opposed extending the moratorium and didn’t agree with holding a special meeting without allowing the councilors to prepare.
“We should’ve known ahead of time and we should’ve prepared for this,” she said. “Even if the moratorium lapsed, nothing would happen.”
City Manager Nate Rudy — who blamed himself for a clerical error forcing the council to hold both readings at the same special meeting — said if someone came forward with a retail marijuana business proposal during a one-day gap in moratoriums, it would put the city in legal jeopardy.
“My goal is to have our local zoning and performance standards in place well before the flood gates are open so it’s clear to everyone we welcome retail marijuana industry in Hallowell,” Rudy said after apologizing to the council for the mistake.
Rudy said he has paid attention to the public hearings held in the past week at the State House in Augusta on recreational marijuana, which voters approved last November, and he said the Legislature thinks it will have legislation written in February and rule-making completed by June or July. A committee completed its sweeping rewrite of Maine’s recreational marijuana law Thursday, and the bill next faces a vote by lawmakers at a special legislative session in late October.
“You should anticipate an additional 180-day moratorium (after this one expires),” he said.
Mayor Mark Walker said he thinks the Legislature will