Planning Board Focuses on New Parking Garage & Medical Marijuana at Afternoon Workshop

Becky DeKeuster, of Northeast Patients Group, at planning board meeting

By Carol McCracken (Post # 521)

Mark Woglom, president of Opechee Construction Corporation, (NH) presented his proposal for a parking garage and condominiums on Lot 2 of the former Jordan Meats Facility this afternoon to the planning board. Lot 1 is where the new Hampton Inn is currently being constructed.

Woglom asked for site plan and subdivision approval for both the 2 story parking garage and the townhouses, but requested a phasing option in case pre-sales of the townhouses do not develop as he currently expects they will. Planning board member, Carol Morrissette, said she does not want to be looking at a parking garage there only for the next 20 years.

Joe Malone, who owns four properties in the area, said he’d have to see the entire project before saying yes to it. Markos Miller, co-chair of the Franklin Street Study Group was “deeply disappointed at the garage proposal. “There is lots of parking in the area. I’d like to see some other way to use this property,” Miller said.

Chairman Bill Hall said with so many phases, “it’s hard to get a handle on where it’s going.” The matter will be scheduled for a planning board public hearing in early fall.

The Planning Board also approved B type zones for medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland this afternoon. This means that the matter can now go before the City Council on July 19 for its approval.

Becky DeKeuster, with Northeast Patients Group, one of the organizations selected by the State to run a marijuana dispensary, reaffirmed to the Board the Group is still interested in the former Key Bank building on Congress Street and St. John Street. The former bank does not abut any residential properties and can be easily secured, DeKeuster said. There would be no cultivation of the product on-site; that would happen in the Bangor-Brewer area. For security and other reasons, the Group prefers this division of the two functions. The dispensary would be the smallest of the areas in the facility; space would be dedicated to educating patients through classes and lectures.

The dispensary would be open Tuesday – Saturday between 10 am to 6 pm. The opening date is scheduled for December.
DeKeuster, who worked in a similar setting in Berkeley, California for ten years said: “This was a very smooth process. We are excited about this.”