Citizens’ petition prompts hearing on marijuana ordinance

BAR HARBOR — Bar Harbor residents will get the chance to express their views on marijuana later this month. A citizens’ petition — complete with drafted regulations — was presented to the Town Council and will be the subject of a hearing Jan. 18.  

With little discussion from council members, petitioner Derrick Sekulich, a Bar Harbor resident who identified himself as a marijuana grower, and downtown business owner Sheryl DeWalt outlined the presented document titled Adult Use Marijuana Store Licensing, which, according to DeWalt, was prepared by an attorney at her expense.  

The ordinance, if adopted, would become part of the town’s code and allow two stores to operate in the zones where retail is already allowed. It also lays out licensing and application requirements and standards and proposes compatible changes to the land use ordinance.  

This was not the first time DeWalt has spoken with the council regarding her desire to open an adult use marijuana shop in town. In October 2020, DeWalt sent a letter to the town planner asking about the steps necessary to gain approval for a retail shop in town. The correspondence was included in the following council packet and discussed. The council did not allow DeWalt to speak, and did not specifically address her request, but instead, after a roughly half-hour discussion, by a vote of 6-1 (Gary Friedmann), instructed the town manager to create a package of materials that would include any past votes and council discussions regarding this subject, as well as a timeline for approval and implementation of retail marijuana businesses in town, before considering any such applications.  

DeWalt, owner of Tree of Life Day Spa, Acadia School of Massage and Salon NaturELLES, referenced that previously unanswered request and said it prompted her to go the petition route. “I wished you would have worked with me in the beginning … but no one wanted to talk to me, and my only choice was to go through the citizen initiative process so that it could go to the voters,” said DeWalt when asked whether changes could be made to the petition.  

“I don’t have any confidence that it’s going to actually become important enough if I pull my petition,” she said. 

Procedurally, after a public hearing there are two options for next steps. The council could decide to adopt the ordinance as written or send it to voters, which would place it on the June town meeting warrant.  

Once adopted — either by the council or voters — it would become like other ordinances in town and could be amended by the council. 

Faith DeAmbrose

Faith DeAmbrose

Managing Editor at Mount Desert Islander

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