The former Shell station on Main Street in Bangor. A Waterville marijuana retailer looking to buy the property sought an exemption to a rule banning marijuana retailers from selling within 300 feet of a residence, but the city rejected the exemption request. Credit: Lia Russell / BDN

A former gas station on Main Street in Bangor will continue to sit empty after the city rejected a request to allow a marijuana dispensary to set up shop there and put the property to use for the first time in nearly 5 years.  

The city Board of Appeals rejected Waterville-based Maple Valley Pharms’ request for a variance on March 24, scuttling the owners’ plans to buy 395 Main St. and set up a dispensary there.

The spot has been vacant since 2018, when Circle K closed a convenience store and Shell filling station that had operated there since 2012. The gas tanks were removed from the property the year the convenience store and filling station closed.

The property remains on the market, though new owners wouldn’t be allowed to set up any enterprise that competes with a convenience store, limiting the range of businesses that could set up shop there.

Maple Valley Pharms owners Hunter and Tony Violette sought approval from neighbors before approaching Bangor officials to consider exempting them from a city rule that prevents marijuana retailers from operating within 300 feet of a residence.

Hunter Violette said he and his father abandoned their plans to buy the property after the board of appeals rejected that request, citing city rules and extensive deed restrictions as obstacles.

The area of the city where 395 Main St. located is zoned for mixed-use retail, and allows marijuana stores under certain conditions, but deed to the property ensures only certain retail stores, like clothing shops, can operate there because of a restriction on selling food and beverages, Violette said.

The property also needs an environmental study before it can be renovated, he added. Homeless Bangor residents have sheltered in the defunct gas station since its closure, according to code records.

Mac’s Convenience Stores, which operates Circle K, did not respond to a request for comment or questions about its deed restrictions. There’s a nearby Circle K convenience store at 545 Main St., located by the Cross Insurance Center.

A property sales listing noted that the deed for 395 Main St. “restricts uses competitive with convenience stores.”  The property broker said there was “ongoing continued interest” in the property from other parties, but declined to comment further.

“No one will spend millions of dollars to sell t-shirts there,” Violette said, referring to the decline of brick-and-mortar clothing stores. “The owners don’t care if it sits there empty, literally forever.”

Commercial space is at a premium in Bangor as the marijuana industry has boomed, frustrating interested parties like the Violettes who want to take advantage of 395 Main St.’s optimum location.

The property is near the Bangor waterfront, Cross Insurance Center, Hollywood Casino and I-395, and was assessed last year at $460,400.  

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Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.