Franklin County gets presentation on marijuana options, aerial imagery

Donna M. Perry, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
·3 min read

Apr. 8—FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners were asked Tuesday to consider opting in to the state adult use marijuana program for the unorganized territory.

Municipalities and counties have to agree to allow an adult use marijuana business in a town, plantation or township. Commissioners could opt-in for different tiers of allowed marijuana growth and different types of marijuana commercial entities as outlined under state law.

The state handles the planning and licensing of a cannabis-related business.

Amanda Melnick of Maine Cannabis Consultants gave commissioners an overview via Zoom on what needs to be done so that someone in the unorganized territory can open marijuana-related establishments.

"As of right now you would have to opt-in to allow adult use in a specific township or all of the unorganized territory," she said.

She has a client in Freeman Township, a family, looking into getting licensed in the state and starting a marijuana business.

"It is a plant and it is currently the No. 1 agricultural crop in the state," Melnick said. It had $266 million in sales last year and it is one of the fastest growing industries in the state, she added.

It is a highly regulated industry, she said.

Commissioners took no action.

In other business, commissioners had a second presentation on the Maine Statewide Orthoimagery Program for specialized, aerial digital photos of the county. Members of the state's Emergency Services Communication Bureau, Maria Jacques, Robert Gasper and Jon Rice, and Claire Kiedrowski, executive director of Maine Library of Geographic Information joined the meeting via Zoom.

The state GeoLibrary would pay two-thirds of the total cost, Jacques said.

"It is a great value," she said.

Of the $121,122, the state would pay about $80,740, according to information provided previously by Claire Kiedrowski, executive director of Maine Library of Geographic Information. There are only two seasons left in this particular five-year project ending in 2022.

The cost to the county and unorganized territory is a combined $40,382 for 18-inch pixel resolution with four-band imagery. Of that amount, the price for the county would be $20,128 for covering about 1,118 square miles. If only the unorganized territory is done, the price is $20,254, to cover about 1,125 square miles.

The GeoLibrary's goal is to cover the state and develop reliable, consistent statewide data, promote cost-efficiency, make timelier decisions, reduce unwanted costs and promote data sharing, according to Kiedrowski's information.

The county approved a similar project in 2014 for 24-inch pixel resolution photos. The flyover was in 2016. The Franklin County Regional Communications Center is using those photos in its 911 emergency communications system, dispatch supervisor Levi Gould said.

The presentation highlighted the difference between 18-inch pixel resolution and 24-inch photos. The 18-inch photos showed more details of terrain and buildings. The imagery could be helpful in different ways, including search and rescues, finding the best access to a place and where emergency vehicles could fit and turnaround better. It is a primary source for adjusting the next generation 911 system, Kiedrowski said.

If the county and, or unorganized territory participates, then a municipality within the county could buy increased pixel resolution at a substantial savings, according to information provided. The options are 3-inch, 6-inch and 12-inch resolutions.