Elected in Hancock May 8 and sworn in at Town Meeting the following evening were, from left, Selectmen John Bridges and Randall Ewins, Planning Board members Mark Piper and Antonio Blasi, School Board members Sarah Baker and Mollie Seyffer and Road Commissioner Rudy Bagley. PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Hancock votes to postpone retail marijuana decision

HANCOCK — Voters at Town Meeting May 9 opted to postpone any decision on retail marijuana shops and social clubs while the state works on regulations to accompany the new law.

Residents voted 40-29 in a paper ballot against an ordinance that would prohibit retail marijuana shops and social clubs in Hancock.

“Think hard about banning things that might make people money,” said Renata Moïse as voters decided on 77 warrant articles over the course of the more-than-two-hour meeting.

Residents also approved a $4.8-million education and municipal budget, of which $800,000 is the municipal portion.

In elections on May 8, voters elected two new selectmen — John Bridges and Randall Ewins — to succeed departing Selectmen Gary Hunt and Myrna Coffin.

Ewins garnered 131 votes while Bridges earned 108, and a third, unsuccessful candidate, Jessie Stewart, received 55.

Mark Piper received 140 votes for an uncontested Planning Board seat being vacated by Josh Ferris.

There were no candidates for a Planning Board seat vacated by Town Clerk Toni Dyer, but Antonio Blasi had said he would accept a write-in vote. Blasi was elected with 12 votes.

Sarah Baker was unopposed for re-election to the School Board and received 159 votes. Mollie Seyffer was a write-in winner for a seat being vacated by William Birdsall. Seyffer received 65 votes while another write-in candidate, Joy Constance Stratton, received 35.

The $4-million school budget is 5 percent, or $214,000, lower than the current budget.

School Superintendent Katrina Kane said the savings were realized when eight teachers resigned, most due to retirement. The salaries of their replacements are lower. Also, there are fewer out-of-district placements for special education students, and, as a result, four school buses are needed instead of five.

Outgoing Selectman Gary Hunt said there were no strong feelings on the board about the proposed marijuana ordinance, but that some people in town opposed the newly passed citizens referendum legalizing retail marijuana sales in Maine.

“We just figured we would put this out to the voters,” Hunt said.

Voters in November 2016 approved a referendum making it legal for Mainers 21 and over to use marijuana and grow their own.

The Legislature then approved a law extending the moratorium on marijuana retail stores and social clubs from November of this year to Feb. 1, 2018.

Some legislators said there were ambiguous aspects of the law that needed to be addressed.

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]
Jacqueline Weaver

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