Hearing set for Winthrop pot store

— The Town Council will host a public hearing next week to consider an appeal by a potential recreational marijuana retail business owner.

The public hearing will take place during the regular council meeting, slated for 7:15 p.m. April 16 in the Winthrop Auditorium, 51 state Highway 20.

While the Planning Commission and town planner contend a marijuana retail store isn’t a valid designated use for the town’s industrial zone, entrepreneur Austin Lott disagrees.

Planner Rocklynn Culp issued a determination to Lott that a marijuana retail shop would be similar to liquor store use and therefore wouldn’t be allowed at the proposed site, 29 Horizon Flats Road STE 7.

“I believe this liquor store view to be an overly narrow view of the issue and a view that is inconsistent with at least one separate but closely related determination already made by the Winthrop Planning Department,” Lott wrote in his March 21 appeal.

Lott claimed another resident, Ed Reinhart, has received approval to grow marijuana on Horizon Flats because the Planning Commission determined it would be consistent with agricultural use.

Lott told them a retail store should be considered an “agricultural market” under the town’s code. His appeal asks the council to allow marijuana retail as “similar” to agricultural market use and allow it in the industrial zone.

The town defines agricultural market as “a use primarily engaged in the retail sale of fresh agricultural products, grown either on or off site, but may include as incidental and accessory to the principal use, the sale of factory-sealed or prepackaged food products and some limited nonfood items.”

“A marijuana retail shop clearly fits the description,” Lott said. The appeal claims Lott was told marijuana retail is not considered an agricultural market because it requires licensing by the Liquor Control Board. He pointed out that Reinhart would also need a license before he can start growing.

In her determination, Culp told Lott her decision was “influenced by the fact that this issue is already under consideration” by the council.

The council has postponed a different hearing, originally scheduled for that date, to consider setting policy regarding marijuana retail.

Written comments on Lott’s appeal can be submitted by 4 p.m. April 16 to the town clerk at 206 Riverside Ave.

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