PI city council approves marijuana license and $290,000 for new tanker

4 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle City Council approved several measures on Wednesday related to the city’s economy and public safety, including a medical marijuana shop license and permission for the city to spend $290,000 for a new fire department tanker. 


In the council’s second in-person meeting since Gov. Janet Mills’ civil state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday’s meeting reflected the continuation of a return to normalcy for the council as it addressed several local issues unrelated to the virus. 

The council continued its approval of cannabis businesses in Presque Isle when it unanimously approved a license for Star City Wellness, a medical marijuana shop that will replace JP Market and Deli at 694 Main St. Given the approval of code enforcement officer George Howe and city department heads, the measure passed with no debate. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing these businesses, or any other businesses, open in Presque Isle,” city council chairperson Kevin Freeman said. “The laws of supply and demand decide who lives and dies with these things.” 

Star City Wellness co-owner Joe Pelkey — who attended Wednesday’s meeting — said he hopes for the shop to open up sometime in the fall. It will become the second medical marijuana facility in Presque Isle since it passed a recreational marijuana ordinance in January. 

The council also approved a request by Fire Chief Darrell White to provide City Manager Martin Puckett the authority to spend up to $290,000 to purchase a tanker for the fire department.

White said one of the department’s tankers had developed “major leaks” after firefighters used it to fight a fire at Presque Isle Landfill in late May. He said an employee at K&T Fire Equipment from Island Falls had told the department that after 36 years of use and severe structural damage, the unit belonged in the junkyard. 

The authorization will allow the city to quickly use reserve funds to purchase a replacement tanker without waiting for approval from the council. White said he hoped to buy a replacement as soon as possible. He said the unit would be used rather than new, as new tankers cost $650,000 at a minimum. 

New equipment for the fire department was not the only public safety issue the council voted on. It also continued its work on dangerous buildings in the city, taking action on properties owned by Fernand Martin at 23 Howard St. and 71 Dyer St. 

The council had given Martin more time to bring his buildings — which were in a state of disrepair that Howe judged to be dangerous — up to city code in last month’s meeting.  

Since that time, Howe said repairs Martin and his son Eric Martin had performed at 23 Howard St. had not brought the deck of the property up to code. Inspections also found no changes to violations at 71 Dyer St. 

The council unanimously approved Howe’s recommendation that the council judge both properties to be dangerous. The vote creates a timetable under which Fernand Martin has 30 days to write a plan of action to correct his properties or risk having the city order them demolished.

The number of dangerous buildings in Presque Isle is a critical problem for the city, and the city council needs to take a “hard line” on the issue, Chasse said. He regretted that the council had given Fernand Martin 30 more days to repair his properties in last month’s meeting.

“I think we have to break the cycle and make it so it is not possible in our community,” Chasse said. 

The city of Presque Isle had advised that due to Gov. Mills’ civil state of emergency rules, more than 50 people would not be permitted inside Wednesday’s meeting. No action was necessary, as 24 people attended, including six out of seven councilors, members of the public and city staff.

The next city council meeting will be held in the council chamber at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5.