Despite the law firm transition, pot moratorium on track

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — How does the delay of hiring a new law firm impact the expedition of a marijuana moratorium for the Town of Naples?

In other words, if elected officials wait a few weeks to hear presentations from the law firms that bid for the legal services contract, will a moratorium still be drafted in a timely manner?

Yes, it will.

Plus, the decision in Augusta to not issue retail marijuana licenses until February 2018 will in essence protect the town while an ordinance governing businesses that grow and sell pot for recreational use is drafted.

During the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, the board held off on selecting its legal services until those firms appear before the board to do a presentation and answer questions.

Resident Roger Clement was the person who brought up the concern.

“Why can’t the law firms show up next week? Why are we waiting two more weeks?

The sooner we get a law firm, the sooner we get the moratorium,” Clement said.

The chairman answered his question.

“There is no immediate rush for the moratorium,” Chairman Jim Grattelo said.

The reason that the bidding legal firms are being scheduled in another two weeks is that the board wants to spend as much time as needed discussing the town manager’s transition, Grattelo said.

Sitting Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak was hired by the Town of Gorham and officially starts the job in September. Grattelo said a big portion of the meeting will be spent talking about and preparing for that.

“So, you have a full agenda and don’t want to crowd any more” topics on it, Clement clarified.

As will continue to be the case at future meeting, the marijuana moratorium was listed under Old Business.

Paraschak reported that the Code Enforcement Officer Renee Carter has started working on the moratorium.

“She approached legal counsel. They didn’t want to hop into it,” since the town put its legal services contract out to bid, Paraschak said.

“We can work on it. We can do a lot of it in-house,” he said.

Selectman Jim Turpin asked board members if they had received a copy of Blue Hill’s pot moratorium, which he suggested could be used as a template.

“I liked it because it was so simple,” Turpin said.

Then, he asked if the taxpayers should be surveyed to learn if they would support this moratorium. He said it would be advantageous to get residents’ feedback on whether or not they would vote for the moratorium before the town puts time and effort into drafting it.

Grattelo said a moratorium was needed.

Bob Caron II recommended a workshop.

“I have mixed feelings,” Turpin said. “On one hand, it is an economic opportunity. And on the other hand, it is an economic opportunity.”

“Someone has to hire employees. It is like any other business. If a brewery comes to town, it helps the local economy,” Turpin said.

Grattelo repeated what he has said since the topic came up at selectmen’s meetings.

“As long as it is not on the Causeway or in the Historic District,” Grattelo said.

When asked, Turpin admitted, “I don’t want a factory next to me.”

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