Pubdate: Thu, 31 May 2001
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author:  Joshua L. Weinstein, Portland Press Herald Writer


Selectmen in Pownal just said no to the Maine Vocals, a group that believes 
marijuana should be legal for recreational as well as medicinal purposes.

Late Tuesday night, the town's three selectmen told the group it cannot 
hold two concerts this summer.

"It's a very serious issue," said Sue Mack, the chairman of the Board of 
Selectmen. "They were expecting 3,000 or 4,000 people, and that impact on 
this little town was pretty major."

About 1,300 people live in Pownal. Mack said selectmen decided that the 
Vocals' application for a permit did not meet the requirements of the 
town's mass gathering ordinance.

"It's not a permitted use in a rural district," she said, "and the parking 
lot that they would have to do would require site plan review." There were 
other problems as well, she said. Things to do with drinking water and 
other facilities.

William Lee, a lawyer who represents Don Christen, who heads Maine Vocals, 
said he had not spoken with his client Wednesday and did not know whether 
he planned to appeal.

But he said that what the selectmen considered an application wasn't an 
application in the traditional sense. In fact, he said, Christen didn't 
submit it.

The board, he said, "had some papers that had been given to them apparently 
by a relative of the property owner" of the land where Christen had hoped 
to hold the Cumberland County Hemp Festival. "According to Don, these were 
notes that he had made to give the property owner, to explain what it was 
he was doing, Lee said.

Lee said Christen tried to put together a more formal application, but 
Memorial Day hampered his efforts.

And, Lee said, "at the end of this very, very long hearing, the question 
came up as to whether or not this type of activity was even allowed in that 
area from a zoning standpoint."

He said he has to review the town's zoning ordinance before he can 
determine whether that is the case. If it is, however, that's the end of it.

"If such a use there is prohibited, then mass gathering is not even an 
issue," he said. "You don't get there."
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart