OXFORD – Following a public hearing on four proposed changes to the ordinances and discussion of those changes at the regular meeting of elected officials last week, council has scheduled an ordinances workshop to consider one of these proposed changes in more detail. , on the maintenance of the property.
A number of townspeople attended the hearing to speak out against another proposal involving marijuana growers and home occupations, though their concerns were largely ignored by council.
The workshop to further investigate the problematic properties is scheduled to take place before the next regular meeting of elected officials on May 5.
Adjustments to the permanent marijuana licensing ordinance would close a loophole that allowed at least one Oxford homeowner to establish a medical marijuana grow facility in his garage as a “home occupation.” without the municipal license that retail growers located in commercial and mixed-use areas are required to have.
With no local apps requirement for the carer, residents of Tiger Hill Road were not told the business would be moving to their neighborhood. Other marijuana growers and facilities that must apply for their license are subject to approval inspections and their locations are limited to commercial or mixed-use areas.
Roger Wulleman, who was a member of the Oxford committee that drafted the city’s original marijuana ordinance in 2017, and who has remained a vocal critic of the fledgling industry coming to town, spoke out against the time frame that allows cannabis growers to move into residential areas and said elected officials are more concerned with free enterprise than protecting city dwellers.
“Residents should have a say in this ordinance,” Wulleman said. “Who wrote it? If you want to change the order, you should have a committee like there were four years ago. It was a mix of the city and the locals. I don’t know where we are, but I know where the board is. They don’t want to do anything. »
Wulleman said there should be limits on how marijuana is grown in residential areas and a cap on the number of retail businesses allowed. He told elected officials that he was circulating a petition to present to council.
It wasn’t the first time he’s implored elected officials to convene an inclusive citizens’ committee to determine marijuana policy in town. He addressed council at a Feb. 6, 2021, meeting about creating a retail marijuana ordinance without resident contributions, only to be told that the ordinance review committee is made up of city officials.
Chuck Howe, a resident of Tiger Hill Road, also criticized the city’s actions on the issue.
“Supposedly a marijuana grow facility is underway,” he said. “That stench of the smell of marijuana is going to cost our neighborhood resale value. You don’t want to consider it to begin with because you don’t give anything. I don’t think any of you care about the well-being of this town as much as you care about business. It is a community of people.
“You didn’t even get a license. How did it happen? Don’t tell me the state is the only one. Because if they are, we don’t need you, the state can allow anything,” Howe said.
Codes Officer Kingston Brown explained to the men that the proposed order was intended to close the loophole that allowed an establishment to open in a residential area. Because municipal licenses for marijuana businesses are renewed each year, if the ordinance passes at a municipal meeting, home growers will have to meet the same standards as commercial growers.
Following statements from Wulleman and Howe, elected officials turned their attention to the proposed property maintenance ordinance.
Changing the property maintenance ordinance was recommended by Brown. This would give the city more power to bring problematic landlords into compliance without having to spend so much time and money in court.
“There are things in the property maintenance ordinance that I can’t support,” said Sharon Jackson, vice chair of the board. “There is more work needed on these changes. Specifically, if you look at what’s offered in the garage sale section, it says that three days of garage sales is all that will be allowed. He says everything needs to be picked up and put away.
Jackson then referred to a house opposite the Oxford Borough Office which regularly holds weekend garage sales but would not comply under the ordinance, to a house on Skeetfield Road which sells tires and several other homeowners in the city who earn their living. by selling their sites.
“The purpose of this property management order is to clean up the dumps that we already have. We have state laws to protect us. We do not seek to enforce the law against people who conduct garage sales. For me, this is a big problem. »
Brown explained that under the state law the city currently follows, the required process is to bring problematic landlords to court to get them to clean up their trash.
“Even after we went to court, we saw that it’s still a problem,” Brown said. “It will be so that we don’t have to go to court.”
Under the proposed order, the city could ask the police department to issue citations against homeowners with repeat problems, speeding up the process to force compliance.
“I’m a little confused,” Wulleman quipped. “You talk about an ordinance for the cleaning of properties and people having (stockpiling) tires, to sell them in their yards. The issues we have raised about marijuana grow operations in residential areas should be addressed. It’s more important than a set of tires, or a yard with its overgrown grass, or having something in front of the house. You’re filing this ordinance, but not the one that affects home and property values? It is allowed to continue. If you’re going to watch one, you have to watch the other too.
Board Chairman Caldwell Jackson moved on to the next agenda item without responding to Wulleman.
The other two ordinances did not give rise to any discussion. The first is to change the Welchville Junction neighborhood at the corner of Routes 121 and 26 from residential to mixed use. The second is a Food Sovereignty Ordinance to protect people’s rights to grow and produce their own food.
While the property maintenance ordinance was the only one of four that elected officials agreed to table and consider, no vote was taken on adding the other three to the terms of reference for the town assembly. June annual.