TREMONT — Public hearings on four local issues, including a proposed ordinance on commercial marijuana sales and a moratorium on cruise ship visits, are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday in the town office meeting room.
The hearings are an opportunity for voters to learn about and comment on the questions before them on Election Day, Nov. 7. The marijuana and cruise ship questions will be on the ballot along with proposed changes to the harbor management ordinance and the wharf and facilities ordinance.
The proposed marijuana ordinance would ban retail marijuana stores, cultivation facilities, facilities that manufacture marijuana products, testing facilities and social clubs in the town. It also would prohibit a person or organization from developing or operating “a business that engages in retail or wholesale sales of a retail marijuana product” as defined by state law. The ordinance would not apply to medical marijuana.
Selectmen last month voted 3-2 to put the question before voters. One of the dissenting selectmen, Jamie Thurlow, explained he would rather wait until the state develops regulations on commercial marijuana sales before the town takes action.
The vote at that Sept. 18 meeting followed the first public hearing on marijuana sales. Comments from residents were equally balanced between pro and con.
The cruise ship moratorium was initiated in response to the planned visit of the 310-foot-long 210-passenger ship Pearl Mist to Southwest Harbor in September. Pearl Seas Cruises was proposing to anchor outside of the town’s harbor and bring passengers aboard a 36-foot tender to Beal’s Lobster Pier, where they would board buses and tour Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. After Southwest Harbor residents voted to impose a moratorium on cruise ships, the Harbor Committee in Tremont requested that selectmen put a moratorium before voters there.
If adopted, the moratorium would apply to any new cruise ship activity “including, but not limited to, the loading or off-loading of 50 or more passengers from vessels in the town.”
The amended harbor management ordinance going before voters corrects a mistake in a version that was on the annual town meeting warrant in May. Voters turned down adoption after it was pointed out that one of the changes inadvertently prohibited commercial fishing vessels from using the ‘A’ mooring pool in Bass Harbor.
The proposed wharf and facilities ordinance also has had a rocky history. A new version was to be considered at the May town meeting. Town officials put that on hold after learning federal regulations tied to the dredging of Bass Harbor prohibit a two-tiered system of fees where nonresident fees are higher than fees for residents. The version going before voters sets the fees equally and is a rewrite of the existing ordinance.