FRYEBURG, Maine — Fifty-five warrant articles will be discussed at Fryeburg’s annual town meeting today, ranging from allowing marijuana sales to fixing sidewalks.
Town meeting is scheduled to take place at the Expo Center at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds starting at 6 p.m. and set to finish up around 8 p.m. Ballot voting took place Tuesday, but there were no contested races.
Last year, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, all town meeting issues were decided at the ballot in July rather than during an open town meeting with discussion in June. This year will be the traditional town meeting.
Typically, town meetings are held at the Leura Hill Eastman Center at Fryeburg Academy, but selectmen this year decided to move it to the fairgrounds in order to accommodate more social distancing as the pandemic winds down.
Here are some articles of note:
• Article 39 asks for $100,000 from the credit reserve account to “be used to repair or improve existing sidewalks and/or to remove abandoned sidewalks.”
• Article 40 asks if voters will authorize the select board to acquire the remaining ownership interest in a parcel of land called Jockey Cap.
• Article 41 asks to allow the town to seek federal financing for Jockey Cap and enter into a conservation agreement with the state.
• Article 43 would allow up to five adult-use retail marijuana stores in town.
• Article 44 would amend the mobile vending ordinance. It would eliminate the cap on mobile vending licenses set at five and also delete a provision that vendors couldn’t serve people in their cars unless the car had a disability plate or placard.
Of the articles, the one on recreational marijuana sales is probably the most controversial. The president of the Fryeburg Academy board of trustees wrote a letter to the Sun (published in today's paper), asking that people vote down the article. "As the host community to our students from near and far, being located in what could become a recreational drug capital could significantly damage the reputation of our students and school," Gordon wrote.
However, there are already several medical marijuana stores in town, as the state of Maine legalized cannabis sales several years ago.
Back in April, selectmen's chair Tom Klinepeter said Article 43 will be an important issue on the June town warrant. He said years ago, when the town started looking at cannabis regulations, the residents didn't want recreational use. But that might have changed.
"It's going to come down to who goes to Town Meeting this year whether we have it or not," said Klinepeter. "People need to know this is not a minor change to our ordinance. This is a major change to our marijuana ordinance."