The town of Old Orchard Beach on Monday will once again start accepting applications for a single business license to operate an adult-use marijuana store following a June referendum that set strict limits on its size and location.
The town first accepted applications in March and three businesses applied, but a judge paused that process until after the referendum vote. Now, many argue that only one property in town meets the criteria approved by voters.
Town Planner Jeffrey Hinderliter said the town waited until Sept. 11 to start accepting applications so applicants would have time to adjust their proposals to the new standards, which restrict the town’s only marijuana store to a building up to 1,000 square feet on a property no larger than a half-acre. The town will be accepting applications until Sept. 15.
Exit 710 LLC, led by Thomas Mourmouras of Beach Boys Cannabis, and resident Priscilla Rowell were behind the effort to get the referendum on the ballot. When the town started moving forward with its licensing process, it filed a lawsuit to stop the town from awarding a license before voters could weigh in.
The building at 11 Ocean Park Road where Mourmouras wants to open a marijuana store is the only property that will meet the size and location limits backed by voters, he said. He plans to resubmit his application next week along with a new traffic study.
Old Orchard Provisions LLC, one of the original applicants, sued the town over the restriction in July, alleging the changes unfairly benefited Exit 710 LLC, whose application included plans for an 800-square-foot building while Old Orchard Provisions’ called for a 1,000-square-foot store inside a 3,800-square-foot building.
Exit 710 LLC and Rowell have asked a U.S. District judge in Portland to let them intervene and defend the ordinance passed by voters. They say in their motion that they doubt the town will adequately defend the law and fear town leaders might even consider settling with Old Orchard Provisions to eliminate the building size restriction.
Hannah King, an attorney for Old Orchard Provisions, did not respond Thursday to questions about the new application period. Previous applicants must submit new applications but are not required to pay the $500 fee again.
Mourmouras said he expects to be the only applicant to submit a complete application, but he is disappointed that the town waited so long after the referendum to accept them. After initially trying to rush the licensing process before the referendum, the town then decided to slow it down, he said.
“They effectively waited another three months after the vote,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is the second time we’ve been stopped in the process as the only applicant with a complete application.”
The town will accept applications for five days, but it could be months before an applicant is selected and receives approval to open a store.
The town’s license administrator must review all applications by Nov. 15. That review will include awarding up to 20 merit points for things like incorporating energy-efficient elements and previous experience operating a marijuana store in Maine.
If two or more applicants are tied after that review, the Town Council will use a lottery to randomly select the applicant to move forward in the review process, according to Hinderliter.
After the initial selection, the applicant has 90 days to apply to the Planning Board for conditional use review. The board is required to issue its decision within nine months of the initial application submission.
If the applicant secures conditional use approval, their application will then undergo a final review by the Town Council. Once approved by the council, the applicant must start operating the business within 180 calendar days.
“One of our objectives when creating the process was to help us secure the best applicant and best business for OOB,” Hinderliter said in an email. “It has been a long process for all involved but we do hope that, in the end, our objective is achieved.”
The town is accepting applications based on new rules that voters passed in June restricting the size and location of adult-use marijuana stores. Read More