Presque Isle councilors discuss marijuana violation and elect new member

2 months ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle city councilors renewed medical marijuana licenses and learned of a license violation from a local provider when they met April 3.

The group also filled an empty seat and voted to loan industrial park administrators $350,000 for a spec building.

The regular council meeting marked the return of City Manager Tyler Brown, who rescinded his prior resignation last month. 

The marijuana license violation resulted from a misinterpretation of law and has been resolved, Code Enforcement Officer Tim St. Peter said. 

St. Peter learned of a fire at a 6 Martin St. property owned by Rashard and Brooke McIlwain, who are state-licensed medical marijuana caregivers, according to information he provided to councilors. The couple were growing marijuana at the site.

The growing operation was illegal because it was on a commercial property, St. Peter said. Medical caregivers can grow a certain amount on their own property, but cannot grow in a commercial space without a commercial license. The couple did not understand the requirements, he said.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — April 3, 2024 — Presque Isle City Councilor Garry Nelson (left) and City Manager Tyler Brown talk during the April 3 council meeting. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

St. Peter and Brown recommended the council take no action since the couple are now aware and all the product was destroyed as a result of the fire.

“The concern has been addressed and rectified, and we will do an inspection to verify,” Brown said. 

The empty council position resulted from the resignation of councilor James Carroll following the March meeting. Four people sent letters of interest to the city to serve until November, when the seat will be filled by election, Brown said. 

Candidates Carl Allen, Christy Daggett, Steve Richard and Darick Williams each addressed the group. Councilors voted by ballot and a tie resulted in a second vote. Williams was elected to the council and will be sworn in at the May 1 meeting.

Councilors approved a Presque Isle Development Fund loan of $350,000 to the Presque Isle Industrial Council for a spec building at 15 West Drive. The building, a carbon copy of the Coca-Cola building, is already finished and a tenant is expected to move in, said Tom Powers, Industrial Council executive director. 

The money will build back the industrial group’s reserves, since reserve funds were used to finish the building for a company, Powers said. He did not name the business because the lease is not yet signed.

Councilors Doug Cyr, Craig Green, Hank King and Garry Nelson voted to approve the loan. Freeman and Councilor Jeff Willette, who are members of the Industrial Council board, abstained.  

In other business, councilors approved several lodging establishment license applications, but tabled an application from one local landlord due to unsafe conditions.

Fernand Martin submitted applications for rental properties at 5 Exchange St., 42 Winter St., 227 State St. and 240 State St. Two of those have no code issues, but 240 State St. needs smoke detectors and the building at 5 Exchange St. is not safe because the fire escape is unusable, St. Peter said. 

Property manager Eric Martin said he will install the smoke detectors at 240 State. Five people live at 5 Exchange St., four on the third floor that is affected by lack of an emergency exit.  He was unsure how long it would take to rebuild the fire escape because of contractor availability but said he would work with St. Peter on a resolution.

Councilors suggested he have the fire escape rebuilt by the May 1 meeting, and voted to table the 5 Exchange St. application until then.

In other business, Kim Smith, the city’s public information officer, provided an update on activities planned around the solar eclipse. 

In his city manager report, Brown recognized Presque Isle Fire Department Captain Kyle Bartley, firefighter/AEMT Joshua Blanchette and firefighter/paramedic Kaitlyn Beil for their diligence during a recent challenging call. He also recognized Presque Isle Police officers Brady Smith and Eric Doepner for assisting those involved in a crash.

Presque Isle will hold a community cleanup day from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.

The next city council meeting will take place Wednesday, May 1, at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.