MITCHELL — Two contractors seeking to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Mitchell again had their variances denied Monday by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Although the Mitchell City Council recently made several changes to the city’s medical cannabis ordinances, none of these changes affected the differences between the two candidates, given that the location of the proposed dispensary by one candidate is within 300 feet of a religious institution, while the dispensary proposed by the other candidate is within 1,000 feet. from another dispensary.
As commissioner Jon Osterloo said, the city’s zoning regulations that state that a medical cannabis dispensary cannot be within certain distances of a church or other licensed dispensary were left in place for a reason.
“The distance of 1,000 feet has been maintained, as has the 300 feet from churches. So I’m going to vote on that and respect the zoning codes,” Osterloo said.
Since the council has not changed the 300-foot buffer zone around religious institutions, Emmett Reistroffer, a medical marijuana entrepreneur from Sioux Falls who is seeking a waiver to open a dispensary in downtown Mitchell, is required to get a waiver to open a dispensary on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street. After a few nearby business owners spoke out against Reistroffer’s swerve, the Planning Commission unanimously denied the swerve.
The most notable change the council made to the city’s cannabis ordinances was the elimination of the right-of-way consideration of the distance between two dispensaries, which did not change the fact that the location from the dispensary proposed by Donald Livesay Jr. at 501 E Juniper Ave. is still within 300 yards of another licensed dispensary along Burr Street.
Right-of-ways consist primarily of major roads such as Interstate 90 and nearby freeways. With the elimination of rights of way being contemplated, this allows Native Nations Cannabis to open a dispensary at 1620 S. Burr St. without having to obtain a waiver. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe medical cannabis dispensary previously had to get a waiver because it was within 1,000 feet of an educational facility and a dispensary solely due to rights-of-way.
At Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Doug Dailey, an attorney representing several residents who own property near Livesay’s proposed Juniper Avenue dispensary, pointed out that the city’s ordinance was written in the purpose of prohibiting a concentration of medical marijuana establishments in one area of Mitchell. Dailey said the Livesay dispensary would put four cannabis dispensaries “very close to each other” in Mitchell’s south side.
“Council asserted that the intent of the zoning ordinance is to prevent a concentration of cannabis establishments. The council could have changed the distance to 1,000 feet, but they didn’t,” Dailey said.
Livesay Jr.’s proposed dispensary location is within 1,000 feet of another dispensary that was approved prior to his application. The city ordinance states that a dispensary cannot be within 1,000 feet of another dispensary, which is why Livesay Jr. is required to obtain a waiver to open.
Livesay Jr.’s plan to open a dispensary in the Juniper Avenue building also drew opposition from another nearby landlord, Nick Kummer, who cited traffic issues and potential public safety concerns.
Kummer asked the Planning Commission to keep nearby landowners in mind, rather than dealing with cannabis businesses.
“Consistent with the Ordinance section, the intent is to minimize the adverse effects of cannabis establishments on adjacent land uses, which recognizes that there are adverse effects on nearby landowners,” said Kummer said during Monday’s meeting. “These nearby property owners and businesses are your citizens you are trying to protect, not the owners of cannabis establishments.”
Considering that the first three approved medical marijuana dispensaries in Mitchell are located on the south side of Mitchell, including two along Burr Street and one in a strip mall near Walmart, Dailey argued that a fourth dispensary in the part south of the city would cause a concentration of marijuana establishments.
As a compromise, Dailey suggested that Livesay Jr. seek another location in Mitchell to open a dispensary due to the concentration of marijuana establishments in the area.
“We don’t think there was any demonstration of difficulty. In this particular situation, Mr. Livesay has many other options,” Dailey said. “The best thing to do, in our opinion, would be to find another location.”
Mitchell City Council will ultimately decide whether to grant the waivers at its next meeting.
Looking for other places
While the Planning Commission unanimously denied Reistroffer’s variance, he pointed out that his proposed downtown dispensary location is the only cannabis establishment that would not be in the southern part of Mitchell.
With the concentration of dispensaries on Mitchell’s south side, Reistroffer said that’s a big reason he chose to pursue the Main Street location.
“We are really a retail store. So we are in the downtown central business district,” he said. “We wanted to go downtown because this southern area is very saturated.”
Over the past few months, Reistroffer said he has been researching other potential locations to open his dispensary. As he identified a potential new location in downtown Mitchell in the vacant building that once housed Overtime Steakhouse, Reistroffer said the costs of fitting out the building for a dispensary are significantly higher than he envisions. for the building 100 West Fifth Ave.
“I am trying my best to find another location, but it has been very difficult because the costs of these locations are high. This downtown building is turnkey,” Reistroffer said. “We won’t give up if we don’t get it. I still want to do business here, and we take security measures very seriously. »
As more churches have moved into downtown buildings, Reistroffer pointed to the City of Sioux Falls’ recent ordinance that removed the buffer zone for medical cannabis establishments near churches located in a central neighborhood. businesses like downtown Mitchell.
Mitchell City Councilman Steve Rice recently questioned whether there should be a buffer zone for downtown churches, noting that bars that sell alcohol don’t have to comply with such regulations as medical cannabis establishments do.
“If churches want to go to commercial business districts, that’s fine. But the city of Sioux Falls recently removed buffer zones altogether because there are more churches in commercial business districts,” Reistroffer said, noting that one church in Sioux Falls meets indoors. of a Shenanigans bar.