Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jan 2006
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2006 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author:  Nick Sambides Jr.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Youth)


LINCOLN - Four town areas popular with youth will be named "Safe 
Zones" if residents of those areas OK the idea.

The Town Council voted 4-1 Monday night to tentatively approve naming 
Prince Thomas Park, Ballard Hill Community Center, the Washington 
Street playground, and the Little League fields behind Hannaford as Safe Zones.

The next step, Town Manager Glenn Aho said, is for police Chief Hank 
Dusenbery to contact residents who live within 1,000 feet of those 
areas to hold a community meeting to allow them to voice their 
opinions on the plan.

If most residents seem to approve the idea, the council will vote on 
it again, Aho said.

According to a proposal put forward by police Officer Richard York, 
anything within 1,000 feet of the four areas can be designated safe 
or drug-free zones under a state law that went into effect Sept. 17. 
The new law expands the protection already offered schools to include 
parks and other areas children frequent.

Under the law, misdemeanor offenses which result in no more than one 
year's imprisonment, such as passing around a marijuana cigarette, 
become felonies punishable with maximum sentences of as much as five 
years imprisonment.

Council Chairman Jeffrey Gifford offered the sole objection to the 
idea and voted against it. Councilors Rod Carr and Samuel Clay were absent.

Gifford said he felt the maximum sentence of five years was too great 
for what he deemed a trivial offense such as marijuana use.

"We're making a big issue out of the guy who smokes pot," Gifford said.

Throwing a 1,000-foot net around those four areas, plus town schools 
which are already Safe Zones under the same law, would cover most of 
the town's population, Gifford said.

Aho said he supported the idea because parents should get a maximum 
reassurance from town authorities that their children will be free of 
drugs or people who use them in the four areas.

No community meeting date has been set.

If enacted by the council, York's proposal would be the town's first 
use of the new law.
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