Thoughts on Weed: Planners launch survey as first step to create storefront rules

The Bridgton Planning Board is looking for residents’ opinions on allowing medical/adult use marijuana establishments in Bridgton.
Note: Any type of retail or commercial adult use marijuana establishment is currently prohibited in Bridgton until authorized by a town warrant article.
A survey is available either in print form at the Bridgton Municipal Complex or online.
Website: bridgtonmaine.org
Drop down: News
Public Notices: Marijuana Establishments Survey (launched Friday, July 27)
Survey through Google Forms
Survey to Allow Adult Use Marijuana Establishments
(Medical/Retail/Commercial)
• I believe that adult marijuana businesses should be allowed in Bridgton: Y or N or Neutral
• I believe that Medical Marijuana businesses should be allowed in Bridgton: Y or N or Neutral
Business Types — Adult Use
(Answer choices — SA, strongly agree; A, agree; N, neutral; D, disagree; SD, strongly disagree)
• Commercial growing and cultivation of adult-use marijuana should be allowed in Bridgton
• Marijuana products manufacturing should be allowed in Bridgton
• Retail Sales (stores) should be allowed in Bridgton
• Social clubs should be allowed in Bridgton
• Marijuana testing facilities should be allowed in Bridgton
• Nursery facilities should be allowed in Bridgton
Business Types — Medical
• Commercial growing and cultivation of medical marijuana should be allowed in Bridgton
• Marijuana products manufacturing should be allowed in Bridgton
• Retail sales (caregiver stores) should be allowed in Bridgton
• Marijuana testing facilities should be allowed in Bridgton
• Nursery facilities should be allowed in Bridgton
Locations
• Growing and cultivation should be allowed in rural areas and areas currently used for agriculture
• Products manufacturing should be limited to commercial and industrial areas in Bridgton
• Retail sales (stores) should be limited to areas that currently allow retail stores of other products
• Social clubs should be allowed anywhere in Bridgton
• Social clubs should be limited to areas that currently allow bars/restaurants
Additional Regulations
• The planning board should review proposals for marijuana businesses just like any other business
• The board of selectmen should review proposals for marijuana businesses just like they do for businesses that serve or produce alcohol beverages
• The town should require that marijuana businesses not be located near schools or churches
Other
• I feel that marijuana businesses will help Bridgton’s economy
• I feel that the presence of marijuana businesses are a threat to public health and safety
• I am concerned about the odors from marijuana businesses
The survey welcomes responders to include additional comments so desired.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

How does Bridgton want to tackle the matter of medical and adult use marijuana storefronts?

The town currently has three marijuana grow sites, and officials suspect it is just a matter of time before someone applies to open a retail store.

Hoping to get ahead of the curve, Bridgton will seek a second moratorium to put a freeze on such openings until a local ordinance can be crafted and put into effect (upon voter approval).

The first step is to gain some input from local residents. Planning Board members held two meetings recently to develop a survey to gauge public opinion. The survey is offered in both written (copies are now available at the town office) and online (on the town website) forms.

Note: A sample of the survey accompanies this story.

Planner Ken Gibbs warned the group that research shows that a return rate of 20% (which would mean the town would need to see 800 responses) would be considered “accurate information” regarding local opinion on the issue. The high response would likely be a good “cross section” of the local population.

Neighboring Fryeburg conducted a similar survey, Gibbs said, and had a return rate of 8%, which he claimed was not “an adequate survey to reach decisions.”

Fellow planner Deb Brusini suspects it will be “extremely difficult” for Bridgton to reach the 20% target line. She feels whatever public input planners receive will simply be “empirical data,” giving the group a “sense” of what people would like to see.

Planner Dee Miller agreed, saying the survey will set a “broad picture” of the will of the people.

“It’s really a straw poll,” she said, noting that results are not binding.

At the suggestion of the town’s attorney, planners included a section titled, Business Types — Adult Use and another section, Business Types — Medical.

Selectmen had charged planners with developing an ordinance to set some standards and regulations addressing both medical and adult use marijuana storefronts, and urged the group to use a survey as a means to delve into how local residents feel.

Planner Cathy Pinkham pointed out that 55% of Bridgton voters were in favor of the citizens’ petition to legalize adult use of marijuana, and is eager to start working on local guidelines.

Brusini noted that the referendum also called for local control, allowing towns to determine what it would allow in the forms of marijuana storefronts and social clubs.

Town Administrative Assistant Brenda Day hoped to keep the survey within two printed pages — which planners were able to achieve.

Online, the survey is in Google form, which will tabulate results quickly and create a results spreadsheet. Once a person logs on, he or she will only be able to answer the survey once — that is unless another e-mail address is used.

“Hopefully, people will be honest. There’s no way to check,” she told planners.

Planners discussed whether to mail surveys to each resident, but that task would carry an expense running into the “thousands.”

The survey deadline is Aug. 31.

Planners will hold a workshop this coming Tuesday, Aug. 7 to start developing the local ordinance.

Please follow and like us: