Planning board to take comment May 1 on Clynk facility and marijuana

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WESTBROOK – Shoppers have been recycling cans and bottles through CLYNK at Hannaford Supermarket on William Clarke Drive for years, but following a trend at other stores, the supermarket may be moving the operation to a different location.

The new location would not be far. In fact, it would be only a matter of feet from the entrance where the CLYNK center is right now.

Darrin Stairs, an engineer with Stantec, said the plan would be to construct a 384-square-foot facility in the southeast corner of the property. The plan was before the planning board for a workshop session April 3, but because the property sits in a contract zone, the plan needs a contract zone amendment approval from the city council.

Stairs wrote in an email to the American Journal that if the project gets approved, the hope is to have the new CLYNK location open by August. The existing CLYNK space, he said, would be converted into other grocery store use.

“Hannaford has been trying to move these operations outside the store to separate those two uses, so they have been installing these,” Stairs said at the workshop. “Basically they are a prefabricated structure. There have no utilities, no water, no wastewater. They have some power, just to power the equipment inside of it.”

The CLYNK operation is also being moved out of the building and to that corner so the CLYNK truck will not have to park in front of the entrance for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day while the recyclables are being picked up to be brought to CLYNK’s warehouse in South Portland. The new location, Stairs said, would make “it easier for them to get the bottles and cans.”

Planning Board Chairman Ed Reidman takes exception to the truck parking in front of the entrance, which is also used at the Hannaford in Falmouth, where he shops.

“I am not a fan of the way the CLYNK is run in Falmouth. They park the CLYNK truck right in the fire lane in front of the store,” Reidman said.

Stairs said there is a proposal in the works at that store to relocate the CLYNK operation to a stand-alone building, which, like in Westbrook, would eliminate that practice.

Planning Board member Robin Tannenbaum’s concern is regarding the CLYNK truck being parked outside the stand-alone CLYNK center during pickups. This can make it difficult for customers to get in and out of their vehicles and can cause a safety issue when customers are going to and from the store.

“This is a consumer comment. It seems, I would not be pleased to be parked, coming or going, and have that truck in my lane … it is going to block a bunch of cars for a while,” she said.

J.M. Lord, of Maple Rock LLC who is serving as a project consultant to Hannaford,  said the proposed location is the logical spot for the stand-alone building.

“We try to put these in places that probably most people don’t get to. The main entrance is up in the north, northwest corner, so its the furthest away from anything,” Lord said.

Nevertheless, Tannenbaum was no fan of the building in that location.

“A lot of people seek that aisle out, especially in the summer, because it is shaded. It is the only aisle that is shaded, she said.

Lord said in trying to get the CLYNK out of the building and the truck from having to stop in front of the store, “this is probably the best location we can put this.”

City Planner Jennie Franceschi said CLYNK doesn’t need approval from the planning board for the new building because of its size, but does need the board to review the plan before passing it along to the city council for a contract zone amendment review.

A public hearing on the matter will take place Tuesday, May 1. The planning board will also hold a public hearing that day on adult use marijuana regulations. The state is still figuring out how to best regulate and license it on a statewide level and the city council has imposed a moratorium until that process is complete.

The moratorium in place now expires Sept. 27. Franceschi said it is unlikely there will be an opportunity for another moratorium after this one, so the city has to have some sort of decision on the matter at the ready when it expires or the council opts to end it.

“We need to come up with language, one way or the other, as to what it exactly is that we want to regulate,” she said.

That language may involve a city-wide ban on the retail sales, social clubs, manufacturing, cultivation and commercial growing of adult use marijuana, at least at this time. Franceschi said on Jan. 8, the planning department held a workshop with city councilors to get feedback as to the direction that should be taken in terms of ordinance and land use amendments.

She said the feedback was because of the ambiguity at the state level about what the regulations are and what the impact to communities is, it was in the best interest of the city to prohibit all uses at this time.

Planning Board member Dennis Isherwood said he is uncomfortable with an all-out prohibition.

“I am very much against the prohibition of anything. I don’t like the word. I just don’t like it,” he said.

Isherwood said he knows a lot of people who use marijuana and do so responsibly.

Franceschi said whatever Westbrook decides to do, individuals 21 and older may still use, and possess marijuana per state law.

Planning Board member John Turcotte said if Westbrook decides to prohibit the retail side of marijuana, the matter will surely be up for debate again.

“This is a temporary stop we are putting on this. This is going to come back to us and we (are) eventually going to have to do a retail marijuana/adult use marijuana of our ordinance. It is going to happen. The die has been cast, but everyone is in such disarray because no one knows how it is going to land yet,” he said.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 781-3661 x 125 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com

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