The mood in the room at Jackson Community Center was lighthearted on a sun-filled Saturday with many residents catching up with one another and plenty of laughs to go around at the annual town meeting March 16.

State Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Waldo, spoke at the start of the meeting, holding a framed certificate with broken glass. The state certificate, she said, recognizes the incorporation of the town, some 200 years ago.

"I brought this for you all," she said, eyeing the broken glass. "(But) I think I still may need to do something about Route 7, don't you think?"

Townspeople laughed at her obvious reference to frost heaves on the road to Jackson.

As moderator Gary Stacey took up items on the warrant, the question of a marijuana establishment ordinance commanded considerable discussion.

A resident who also is the clerk for Etna spoke on behalf of the ordinance dealing with "Marijuana Establishments." She said that town passed an ordinance almost identical to the one proposed in Jackson: Marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities would be permitted in town, just not within 500 feet of a school. Marijuana stores, or the sale of pot products to consumers, would be prohibited.

According to Maine law, "a municipality may regulate the home cultivation of marijuana for personal adult use within the municipality."

Jackson's ordinance "allows everything but retail stores," the Etna clerk said.

The proposed Jackson ordinance also stated, "… nothing is intended to prohibit any lawful use, possession or conduct pursuant to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act."

Under the proposal, Jackson would establish application, license and license renewal fees for each type of permitted establishment.

"There's not going to be a bunch of traffic with people coming to buy little bags of weed," the Etna clerk said. "That market is all ready taken."

One resident asked if the ordinance pertained to commercial or individual growing operations.

The clerk replied that the town ordinance "is written for anyone that wants to grow it and pay the fees to the state and get the permit."

One resident said, "Jackson is not Etna. It sounds like this is a sin tax for people who are growing marijuana. We don't have any schools in the town of Jackson."

She went on to say Jackson needs its own laws, not just a boilerplate template. "We don't need to take another town's ordinance,: she said. "I suggest we vote no, and then we deal with it, next year if we have to. Appoint a committee, do it right."

In the end, of 50 votes cast, 32 voted against allowing cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities, and 18 voted for it.

Stacey said after the vote, "We took care of our marijuana; now we got to take care of our liquor." His comments drew another round of laughter. Stacey was referring to Article 9, which dealt with issuing licenses for sale of alcohol on days other than Sunday.

One resident spoke in favor of the ordinance, saying she and her husband operate Tattoed Dad Brewing Co. on Route 7, and passing the ordinance would allow them to go from a "weekend hobby to a real small business."

Town Clerk Brenda Dennison explained why the ordinance had become relevant. The town received a notice from the state indicating the town's liquor sales agreement, which was passed in 1987, only allows liquor sales on Sunday.

"This is a recommendation from the state to update our ordinance," she said.

The ordinance passed, 44-5, with one blank vote.

When Dave McDaniels was re-elected as representative to the Unity Area Regional Recycling Center, he said that last year he offered to waive the $400 compensation and do it for free, it had gotten "contentious." He discovered that the six other towns in the UARRC collaborative send unpaid representatives.

"Until we have difficulty getting someone that wants to do it again, I think we should eliminate the $400 and save the town a little bit of money," McDaniels said.

One resident then offered, "I make a motion we don't pay him anything," which elicited some laughs.

The motion was approved.

The only other topic that stirred debate was an ordinance clarifying language on existing road frontage requirements.

In the Jackson Land Use Ordinance, under Dimensional Standards, a list outlines footage criteria for new structures or mobile homes. Under Section 4, 3A.1, the new designation reads, "The lot must have a minimum of 200 feet of continuous public road frontage."

For corner lots with frontage on more than one public road, the frontage on at least one public road must be a minimum of 200 feet. Previously, the ordinance stated the front of the lot must be 200 feet wide.

According to McDaniels, who also is a member of the Planning Board, the current ordinance is "ambiguous" and the new ordinance is an attempt to be more specific.

He said the sentence in question, "Lot width at front of principal structure location has to be 200 feet," could be up for interpretation.

"Does that mean you can define what the front of your lot is by which way your house is facing?" McDaniel said. "That's never how it was interpreted or meant to be."

The new description includes the words "road frontage."

"You could live in a round house," he added. He went on to say this would not affect existing lots, but rather, would be a guide for new lots.

In closing remarks, Dennison said the budget increased, but only by $1,369 from the previous year; and with the addition of $400 saved from the UARRC representative compensation, it worked out to be less than $1,000.

All town municipal officers were re-elected by written paper ballots.

Selectman John Work was re-elected for another three-year term with 28 voting yes and three blank votes. Voters approved the recommended compensation of $2,000 for the first year, the second year at $3,000 and third year at $4,000.

Don Nickerson Sr. was re-elected as Jackson fire chief with 17 unanimous votes cast. His compensation was set to the selectmen's recommendation of $2,500.

Work commended Nickerson — "he's done a hell of a job with a very small budget" — to the applause of many in the room.

Mary Correa was re-elected as Emergency Management Agency director with 10 votes and her compensation was set to the selectmen's recommendation of $750.

The town of Jackson elects a sexton — a church officer who takes care of the church property. Marlene Thompson was re-elected as Jackson's sexton with 11 votes and compensation set at $300.

The Town Report this year was dedicated to Virginia Work, Theo Stacey and Eleanor Tibbetts. According to the inscription, "These three ladies lived in town for many years and gave many decades of service to the town."

The meeting adjourned after two hours.