March 22, 2023

Tricia Oak

Business & Finance Excellency

Prospective marijuana business enterprise cries foul in excess of Aged Orchard Seaside rule modify

Tom Mourmouras, president of Exit 710 LLC, is suing the town of Outdated Orchard Beach front around its new ordinance regulating recreational cannabis shops. Ben McCanna/Workers Photographer

An Previous Orchard Seashore resident who desires to open up a recreational marijuana retail outlet is asking a court docket to prevent the town from “rushing to rig a licensing process” for the one license the city will concern.

Lawyers for Thomas Mourmouras, president of Exit 710 LLC, and resident Priscilla Rowell allege the city is stalling a referendum exertion aimed at switching the ordinance regulating leisure cannabis merchants at the similar time that the City Council designed its own alterations.

Mourmouras stated the town’s authentic procedures favored his strategies, but within just several hours of telling officers he experienced an application prepared to go, they took ways to alter the method.

“They moved the goalpost the moment they discovered out who the candidates have been,” he reported.

The plaintiffs submitted a motion for a preliminary injunction Wednesday inquiring a decide to quit the city from “short-circuiting the democratic process” by issuing the solitary grownup-use cannabis license just before the June referendum that could modify constraints for cannabis corporations.

The town is scheduled to acknowledge programs for adult-use stores from March 6 to 10.

“They’re attempting to give the only license out right before citizens are permitted to vote on this issue. They are efficiently silencing the will of the voters,” Mourmouras, who owns the Beach Boys Cannabis Corporation health-related cannabis dispensary, mentioned Friday.

The plaintiffs submitted a lawsuit on Feb. 16 in York County Top-quality Court alleging the town altered its ordinance to award the coveted license based mostly on benefit-based mostly standards fairly than the first occur-very first served course of action that the town initially adopted. The initial procedure would have resulted in Exit 710 LLC obtaining the license for the reason that it was to start with in line, but the advantage-primarily based criteria favor an unnamed competitor that will propose a almost 4,000-square-foot retail outlet, according to the lawsuit.

The team is asking the courtroom to buy the city to maintain the referendum vote in 30 times, scrap the merit-dependent conditions, and wait to open applications until 10 days after the election.

Town Supervisor Diana Asanza and Zachery Brandwein, an legal professional from Bernstein Shur who represents the city, each declined to chat about the lawsuit, indicating they never comment on pending litigation. The city has not but filed a reaction to the lawsuit with the court.

A RIGGED Method?

Under Maine law, leisure marijuana shops can function only in cities that opt in to the state’s grownup-use application. Municipalities have the electric power to limit the quantity of marijuana companies within their borders and to call for them to get municipal enterprise licenses.

This is not the first time a municipality has faced criticism over how cannabis enterprise licenses are awarded. In 2020, the Portland Metropolis Council voted to rest its eligibility demands soon after a decide sided with an out-of-state applicant who claimed the city’s elaborate scoring matrix was unconstitutional simply because it favored state people.

Very last year, the owner of a local cannabis enterprise threatened to sue the city of Kittery above the lottery it made use of to award the town’s 3 grownup-use cannabis licenses, indicating it was rigged due to the fact it permitted applicants to game the procedure by shelling out 1000’s of bucks to submit dozens of pre-apps.

Aged Orchard Seashore residents voted in 2020 to permit the sale of leisure cannabis. The town then used nearly a yr acquiring an ordinance that would only allow a person shop. The organizing board also suggested the council prohibit companies to a greatest of 1,000 sq. feet, but the council did not adopt it.

Previous drop, Rowell submitted a citizen’s petition signed by 603 residents in search of to restrict the dimension of adult-use marijuana shops to 1,000 square ft on a lot underneath a 50 %-acre. Mourmouras’ individual strategies for opening a keep called for a stand-by itself constructing that is less than, 1,000-square-toes, a size he thinks numerous citizens like mainly because it fits with the character of the town.

But the town preparing division explained to the council it is concerned the petition would make Mourmouras the only skilled applicant. The division also observed it would be tough to interpret how to utilize the sizing restrictions.

The council voted in December not to undertake the petition and scheduled a referendum on the question for June 13. The lawsuit alleges that a delay of much more than 8 months is illegal under the city constitution, which says the Town Council have to call a special city election within just 30 days right after a public hearing on the petition.

In January, the council ended up voting on its personal modification to go to the advantage-primarily based procedure. The new system, Mourmouras stated, would favor his competitor. He also alleges the other firm had a part in shaping the new regulations.

To submit an software in Old Orchard Seaside, candidates will have to have a conditional license from the point out to function an adult-use cannabis organization. The Workplace of Marijuana Plan has issued two conditional licenses for Aged Orchard Seashore: the retail outlet proposed by Exit 710 LLC and a single from Aged Orchard Provisions LLC.

According to a public observe of intent to file a website traffic motion allow with the Maine Department of Transportation, a enhancement on Smith Wheel Highway would include a 3,960-square-foot retail cannabis facility. Makes an attempt to get in touch with representatives of Old Orchard Provisions LLC on Friday ended up unsuccessful.

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