Farmington select reviews marijuana, flat tire requests

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FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen accepted a letter of retirement from Farmington Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell, effective November 30, 2021. Chief Bell has indicated that he will continue to serve on the department in other capacities but that he will be stepping down as chief.

“We cannot even begin to thank him for everything he has done,” Chairman Matthew Smith said.

Other business during the October 12 meeting included review of a taxicab business license for Tommie Joesph Plourde. Plourde intends to operate ‘as needed’ and already receives calls from the hospital and the county jail for transportation. He ran a taxicab business in Aroostook County, so he is familiar with the operation of said business. The board approved the license and wished him well in his business endeavor.

The board also revisited a request for changes to the marijuana ordinances as put forth by Ryan Morgan. Steve Kaiser, the town’s code enforcement officer, explained that the request required two processes: appealing to the zoning board to change the zoning ordinance restrictions on the historic downtown district, and presenting an appeal to the board of selectmen for a warrant article to change the town’s marijuana ordinances.

Morgan requested that the town remove the limitation on marijuana business licenses available, currently set at seven, and allow him to open an adult use retail store in the downtown district. He felt that supply and demand would regulate the marijuana market.

“That’s all I’m asking. A chance for free market to work,” he said.

Michael Fogg, a member of the board, stated that the town worked on the ordinances for over a year, including public hearings and input from the community, before putting the ordinances in place. If the townspeople wished to change the ordinances they could, however, he voiced support of the ordinances staying the way they were written, and felt that they met the needs of the town.

Selectman Stephan Bunker said he understands the process is frustrating but the board is not trying to be obstructive.

Chairman Smith reiterated that regardless of how the board feels on a particular issue, they are responsible to follow due process; if a request meets the town’s criteria, the board must put it to the voters, whether they agree with it or not. He said that while he personally is unsure how he feels about the proposal, he hoped Mr. Morgan would follow through with the process.

Robin Hutchinson presented an appeal to the board, along with a flat tire. Hutchinson stated that on August 26, 2021 he was driving on Morrison Hill Road when one tire went off the pavement into a washout, bent the rim, and damaged the tire.

Town Manager Christian Waller spoke over the phone with the board and said that, under the Maine State ‘pot hole’ law, the town was only liable for damages if they had received notice of the road conditions 24 hours prior to the incident and failed to fix it. He consulted with the town’s attorney and concluded that the town was not liable for the damages to Mr. Hutchinson’s tire and rim.

The board reviewed photos and documents that Hutchinson presented, and unanimously voted to deny the request for reimbursement. Hutchinson said that he would take it to small claims court. The board agreed that he had the right to pursue whatever action he felt necessary.

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