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Waterville changes marijuana ordinance to accommodate business owner

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:50 PM EDT
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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - The city of Waterville voted tonight to amend its marijuana ordinance to allow retail stores to set up closer to municipal safe zones.

Retail marijuana stores are now allowed within 400 feet of municipal safe zones - previously, the buffer was 500 feet.

An incoming store, “Marijuanaville,” received its license tonight.

Owner Frank Berenyi was told in March that his store would be allowed to open on College Avenue. The city then established a safe zone around the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in July, the first such zone in the city.

Berenyi’s store subsequently fell under the 500-foot buffer. He had already signed a lease.

Tonight, councilmembers voted 5-1 to reduce the buffer, allowing the business to open.

“We made sure it was approved with an email from the code officer for an active lease,” said Berenyi. “I didn’t go there and do it and then say, ‘Hey Waterville, go do this.’”

“I think blocking a business that is legal that got some assurances from the city that that was going to be an OK spot, and then we as a city changed the rule in-between the process, I think that shows that we are not business-friendly,” said Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho.

Marijuanaville’s license begins on October 26, the same day the amended ordinance goes into effect.

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