BAR HARBOR—Bar Harbor residents feel the same about retail marijuana as they did in 2017, according to a recent poll taken by the town.
The survey, conducted through the polling service, Polco, was answered by 232 participants, a number down slightly from three years ago. However, despite the dip in participation, the results remained split just about the same with roughly 60 percent of respondents in favor and 40 percent opposed.
Residents also favored a 1,000-foot rather than a 500-foot buffer between marijuana businesses and schools by a 3 to 1 margin and said that considerations should also be made to limit those businesses in areas where playgrounds, day care facilities and recreational facilities are already located.
While the statistics seemed clear in terms of overall favorability, council members were still not sure that they had enough information to compel them to vote one way or another. “The devil is in the details,” said council member Val Peacock, who explained that the location of such establishments, how many to allow and in which areas of town were all concerns that have been expressed previously but were not able to be captured through the largely yes or no poll. “Before we can create any sort of policy, we need to get more input and understand what we are trying to do and what our potential options are,” she added.
The council has the authority to approve a measure that would allow retail marijuana businesses in town, but any land use amendments needed to site such businesses in the various districts of town would be subject to voter approval. That entire process, from council vote to land use amendments, is likely to take approximately a year and a half, with the expectation that those amendments would come before voters in June 2022 if the process were to begin shortly.
Council members expressed concern for the amount of work currently in front of the town’s Planning Department and the implications of giving them another large project to work through, but ultimately voted to give more time before any process would begin by scheduling a workshop in February to begin council deliberations.
“That timeline actually works,” said council member Matt Hochman. “That gives us the time to figure out what those questions are [that we need to ask] and to speak with constituents and find out what their concerns are.”