MITCHELL — After being filed over the past two months, two entities seeking to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Mitchell will have their waiver requests reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday.
With recent changes to the city’s medical marijuana ordinances now in effect, Emmett Reistroffer of Sioux Falls and Donald Livesay Jr. of Mitchell are submitting their waiver requests to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday for the first time since the amendments were approved.
Perhaps the most notable change to the ordinance that Mitchell City Council recently approved in early February is the elimination of rights of way in the distance between two medical marijuana dispensaries. The city ordinance states that a dispensary cannot be within 1,000 feet of another dispensary.
When measuring distance to another cannabis dispensary, the city previously considered rights of way — which consist mostly of major roads like Interstate 90 and nearby freeways.
Removing distance rights of way between dispensaries paved the way for Native Nations Cannabis to get approval for their proposed dispensary location at 1620 S. Burr St.
Although the proposed location of the Native Nations Cannabis Dispensary near Interstate 90 is technically more than 1,000 feet from the nearest educational institution and another nearby approved dispensary, it was previously within 1,000 feet of Mitchell Technical College and Approved Dispensary only because of the right of- paths being taken into account in the distance. After council removed rights of way, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe Indigenous Nations Cannabis is no longer required to obtain a waiver to operate from Mitchell’s South Side Linear Mall.
Reistroffer’s variance will not be affected by the changes to the medical marijuana ordinance the board approved. Reistroffer, owner of Sioux Falls-based Genesis Farms, is looking to open a medical cannabis dispensary inside a building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street in downtown Mitchell. However, the proposed location is within 300 feet of a religious institution. According to city ordinance regulations, a dispensary cannot be located within 300 feet of a religious institution unless a waiver request is approved.
When council recently approved several changes to the city’s medical marijuana ordinances, councilman Steve Rice questioned whether the city should keep the 300-foot buffer zone around religious institutions. Rice pointed out that bars in Mitchell that sell alcohol are not required to adhere to buffer zones stipulating that they cannot be within 300 feet of a religious institution.
“We are not requiring any buffer zone for downtown bars and religious institutions,” Rice said at a recent council meeting.
It’s unclear whether eliminating the right-of-way included in the distance between dispensaries could affect Livesay Jr.’s waiver request to open a dispensary at 501 E. Juniper Ave.
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 neighboring landlords, who cited traffic issues and potential public safety concerns.
The Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision on whether or not to recommend approval of Reistroffer and Livesay Jr.’s waiver application on Monday is only a recommendation. Mitchell City Council will ultimately decide the fate of the two deviations following the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Currently, three dispensaries have been approved to operate in Mitchell. A Missouri-based medical cannabis company’s plan to open a dispensary in the old Runnings building along Burr Street and Jordan Raftis’ plan to open a dispensary in a strip mall near Walmart were both first clinics to gain board approval. Native Nations Cannabis is the newest dispensary to break through its hurdles to open a dispensary along South Burr Street.
So far, none of the licensed dispensaries have officially opened.