Corinth residents voted not to allow a medical cannabis store to open on Main Street, approved a temporary ban on commercial solar developments and stopped the town from buying a new building to house the town office during the annual town meeting Tuesday evening.
The temporary ban on commercial solar developments will give the town 180 days — roughly 6 months — to draft rules and regulations for future commercial projects that may look to establish in Corinth, the ordinance states.
With the temporary moratorium approved, Corinth joins other Maine communities, including Glenburn and Dixmont, that have instituted bans or restrictions on solar developments. Other communities said they fear that solar farms would use up land that could support housing or agriculture, while others worry how the solar panels would be decommissioned and disposed of appropriately in the future.
Although Corinth has already approved three solar developments between 2020 and 2021, town leaders drafted the temporary ban after Corinth residents expressed concerns regarding how future solar farms could affect adjacent property values, the environment and the aesthetics of the town, the ordinance reads.
Two of Corinth’s previously approved solar developments each measure about 17 acres in size. One is on Main Street near the A.E. Robinson gas station and the other is at 120 Ridge Road, City Manager Stepehn Fields said. The third is about 36 acres and is on Main Street near the Central Community Elementary School.
Ellsworth and Augusta have also put holds on solar panel construction, citing concerns about overdevelopment and aesthetics.
Corinth residents also voted 76-222 not to allow a medical marijuana caregiver store, Patriot Cannabis, to open at 352 Main St. near the intersection of Main Street and Exeter Road.
Caregivers in Maine are allowed to operate one retail store to sell cannabis to patients who use it for medical purposes, according to state law.
While Corinth prohibited retail marijuana stores, manufacturing and testing sites in 2017, the town has two marijuana stores that were grandfathered, Fields said.
Corinth residents also unanimously struck down an ask from the town to purchase the former Blackwell Insurance building at 575 Main St. to become the new town office. The building would have cost $568,643.14, which the town would have paid for over 10 years at $56,864.28 annually.
Fields said the town needs a new building because the existing town office is 50 years old and the municipality is outgrowing the existing and aging space.
“Your community is growing,” Fields said. “You have records that have to be maintained by state and federal law. Your voting area doesn’t meet state voting requirements. Your building has exceeded its life cycle in its current condition.”
Residents worried the town would buy a building that doesn’t properly fit the town’s needs and would need to shoulder future expenses because the Blackwell Insurance building will need to have a vault installed to hold town records.