BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council amended Ordinance 21-025 regarding zoning regulations for cannabis establishments on Tuesday and then tabled the item for future consideration.
The council also heard two first readings pertaining to cannabis establishments.
Mike Struck, director of Community Development, explained Ordinance 21-025 had been updated to keep the buffer distances for cannabis establishments all at 300 feet from churches and schools, as per the council’s instructions during the previous meeting.
“We’ve since come across the legislation in IM-26 where there’s that 1,000-foot buffer from schools, so we have updated the map,” Struck said.
He displayed a map of the city with the buffer zones around school property outlined in yellow and the 300-foot buffers in blue. Some locations may have multiple buffers where they overlap, he added.
Struck pointed out the 1,000-foot buffer around South Dakota State University takes out most of the area north of Sixth Street, as well parts of Walmart. Large areas are taken out by Hillcrest Elementary School, Mickelson Middle School and St. Thomas More Catholic Church, which operates a K-2 center, Struck said.
The distances are measured from property line to property line, Struck said. Some places, like the Zesto’s property would not be eligible because it falls in the buffer zone, but other properties along 22nd Avenue would be, he said.
Councilor Holly Tilton Byrne asked about the definition of school, using SDSU as an example.
“Is it the property that the school owns, is it where classes are taught; how is that defined?” she asked.
“It is not presently defined. IM-26 says a public or private school. I would think, like the sheep unit, for example, would be an educational facility, it would be part of the school,” City Attorney Steve Britzman said.
“So if SDSU or even the public school system were to get a new plot of land that they are going to use, put up a new school, put up a new building, and an already established dispensary is then within a thousand feet, are they grandfathered in and allowed to remain or do they have to relocate?” Tilton Byrne asked.
“They’d be grandfathered in,” Britzman said, quoting a definition he said would protect them.
Councilor Nick Wendell quoted the regulations and said he was curious why the city regulates the distance between dispensaries.
“What is our concern in having two cannabis dispensaries in proximity to one another?” Wendell said.
To prevent a concentration of those businesses in a particular area, Struck said.
“I’m not certain that that’s of interest or concern for me. I don’t feel like we regulate alcohol establishments in that way in our community,” Wendell said, adding he understands that people may not want to drive down a block lined with cannabis dispensaries, but that might be part of its being normalized.
City Manager Paul Briseno said Britzman had been in communication with places in Colorado which have been dealing with legalized cannabis for years and don’t regulate the number, but do regulate the distance between establishments, which in turn regulates the number of businesses.
Councilor Leah Brink agreed with Wendell; referring to the map on the overhead screen, she pointed out the buffer zones already create a significant limit on where the dispensaries can be located.
“If we pass this zoning regulation, I don’t think we need to proceed with any kind of caps on numbers,” Brink said.
“Looking at the map, I would tend to agree, as well,” Tilton Byrne said. Knowing the community and where people might want dispensaries and not want them, especially as schools and parks are spread out in town, “there may naturally – because of this map and setbacks – become an area where it’s more appropriate for those.”
Mayor Ope Niemeyer pointed out the Research Park is owned by SDSU and has the seed lab, which is an educational facility.
“Would that be in this buffer then?” Niemeyer asked, wondering if there’s a concern about a dispensary in the Research Park.
“It’s a good question, because it’s no man’s land. It’s not zoned by the city of Brookings,” Struck said. “It’s exempt from our zoning at this time because it’s owned by the state or the university. … If they were to sell land to a private individual, then it would be subject to our zoning.”
Wendell proposed an amendment to the ordinance to remove, under Section 194-505b, the words “or another cannabis dispensary” from the language, related to distance between establishments.
Britzman said they could amendment the ordinance, double-check state statute, and then revisit the ordinance in the future.
“We have time to do that,” he said.
There was no public comment, so the council voted to approve the amendment, then voted to table the ordinance “for a later time, until we can get this wording correct,” Niemeyer said.
The council heard two first readings pertaining to cannabis.
Proposed Ordinance 21-027 would establish the number of medical cannabis establishments in the city. The second reading is set for Aug. 10.
Britzman explained some of the legal aspects of the ordinance.
“While there are 95 statutes which make up IM 26, there are probably 10 or fewer which relate to the role of a city in the licensing of medical cannabis,” according to Britzman’s memo, attached to the agenda and available on the city’s website.
“These 10 statutes are important because IM 26 provides that the Department of Health ultimately determines who receives a registration certificate to operate medical cannabis dispensary and medical cannabis product manufacturing facilities, medical cannabis testing facilities and medical cultivation facilities,” according to Britzman’s memo.
Emmett Reistroffer of Sioux Falls said he had just spoken at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting and has participated on a task force.
He said he grew up in Sioux Falls and has been in the cannabis industry for a decade, primarily in Colorado and Nevada. He’s founder and principal consultant at Crosswinds Consulting, LLC.
He said he and his partners want to pursue a full vertical integration, “which means we want to grow it, manufacture it and sell it, take care of the whole supply chain.”
He said their future intent is to seek a dispensary in Brookings, and eventually several across the state, but his main reason for talking to the Brookings City Council was to offer himself as a resource for the industry, from security and inventory control to community relations. He said he had “an open-door policy” to law enforcement, city officials and regulators.
“We want to partner with the city. We know marijuana’s already sold illegally in all 66 counties in South Dakota,” Reistroffer said, adding “it’s a lot of money.”
“When we go down this path of a regulated system, our goal is to work with you to drive out that illicit market,” Reistroffer said. “We’re transparent, we pay taxes. … I’m really an advocate for a regulated system.”
“I know not everyone likes marijuana, of course,” he said, admitting it’s new and there are unknowns.
“There’s no perfect way to decide who gets a license,” Reistroffer said, adding the state has offered a lottery process.
“We don’t want to be by schools. Like the city attorney mentioned, state law already covers that, it’s 1,000 feet – that’s our standard nationwide,” Reistroffer said.
“Our goal is to make sure we are good neighbors, and the community does support our plan,” Reistroffer said.
Wendell asked Reistroffer about the integrated business model, whether an operation does dispensary and production in the same location.
“Actually, no,” Reistroffer said, adding it’s not a typical model; what they want to do in Brookings would be a retail store.
The council discussed and questioned various aspects of the cannabis industry.
The second proposed item was Ordinance 21-028, which would establish procedures for the licensing of medical cannabis dispensaries in the city. The second reading is set for Aug. 10.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]