A marijuana plant grows under artificial light at an indoor facility in Portland in this Dec. 13, 2018, file photo. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

YORK, Maine — The Planning Board last week granted approval for a medical marijuana dispensary at Meadowbrook Plaza and approved the first phase for an artist retreat at Surf Point.

At the Aug. 22 meeting, applicant Cyrus Clark, a Kittery town councilor, told the Planning Board a traffic assessment for the York dispensary to be located at Meadowbrook Plaza was reviewed and approved by the Department of Public Works, with recommended improvements to the entrance/exit to the plaza to be done at Clark’s expense. A stop sign at the existing entrance/exit will be installed and pavement markings will be refreshed, Clark said. The water district, fire and police department also signed off on the plans.

“My experience working with the town has been excellent. I’d really like to thank the town of York,” Clark told the board. “My hope today is that you’ll find that we’re in compliance and that we will be approved.”

The board approved Clark’s application in a 5-0 vote.

[A Maine town councilor wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary]

During a previous Planning Board meeting, Clark said the dispensary will “provide the town of York and the surrounding communities with safe, tested, behind-the counter medicine. We will ensure only qualifying patients with proper state ID will have access, while simultaneously blocking out black market actors.”

Clark has said the goal is to open the facility by January 2020. The Planning Board approval is granted pending state licensing. The state will be releasing six new medical marijuana dispensary licenses for Maine. There currently are eight dispensaries in Maine, with the closest to York being in Biddeford.

Clark is a medical marijuana caregiver and his cultivation facility is in Wells, where he leases space in a building owned by the company Springer LLC, which offers six cultivation rooms for caregivers. The medical marijuana sold at the York dispensary will be grown at another location yet to be determined, Clark has said.

Board members last week asked about security for the facility. Clark said there will be online monitoring by police and a security guard who will check identification and registration. While further plans were signed off on by the York Police Department, Clark said he did not want to go into further detail as the facility could be a target for robberies. “We’ve worked it out with the police department, 100 percent, and fire,” he said.

The first phase of an artists and writers residency program at Surf Point, a 46-acre oceanfront property formerly owned by late art patron Mary-Leigh Smart and artist Beverly Hallam, was also approved in a 5-0 vote. Smart created the Surf Point Foundation in 1988, with the goal of establishing the residency program.

The first phase approved by the Planning Board includes minor renovations to Surf Point, one of two houses on the property, to create living quarters and studios for three artists to live and work in the home, architect Richard Renner said.

“The scope of the renovation is minimal,” he said, adding site work is limited to installing two granite landings at two new egress doors. “There is no change in the landscape, no change in the site.”

Renner said Smart’s goal was to turn the property into “an intimate, small retreat for artists of different backgrounds.” She created the Surf Point Foundation, advocated for a needed zoning change and worked with the York Land Trust to place fields surrounding Surf Point and Wild Knoll — the second house on the property — into conservation easement. When Smart passed, Renner said the property was passed on to the foundation “and they are in the process of making her vision a reality.”

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