DEADWOOD — While Deadwood city officials have proposed an ordinance that allows cannabis establishments in areas zoned ag, commercial highway district, and commercial enterprise district, they will not be allowed within 500 feet of a church or 1,000 feet of a school.
At a special city commission meeting Monday, Deadwood Legal Counsel Quentin Riggins gave a synopsis of the ordinance approved by the commission.
“What we’ve done is put together an ordinance that would apply equally to both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis, even though that issue of recreational use is still pending before the South Dakota Supreme Court,” Riggins said. “What we’ve done is designate various areas in which a dispensary or grow facilities for cannabis could be located.”
Although allowed in the agriculture district, Deadwood does not currently have an ag district.
“But in the event we were to have agricultural property annexed into Deadwood, those would be the only areas where the cultivation, testing, and manufacturing facilities could be located,” Riggins said. “The other dispensaries could be located within a commercial enterprise district in Deadwood. That’s primarily what the ordinance establishes.”
The ordinance also sets forth distancing requirements.
“The dispensaries can’t be less than 1,000 feet from any school, with schools defined as child care facilities, as well,” Riggins said. “They can be within 500 feet of any park, with park defined, specifically for that ordinance within the section. And also 500 feet from any place of worship.”
Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr. said there are currently two properties that are zoned commercial enterprise.
“Those are the First Interstate Bank and the Engine House,” Ruth said. “By creating that district, they eliminated those two properties as use for casinos. … The idea is to keep it as far away from residential and away from places where people gather for worship or playgrounds for kids and families or the school.”
The Pioneer verified that city officials are not talking about Main Street for the establishments.
“1,000 feet from the school takes you down to Wall Street,” Ruth said. “And everything north of that on Main Street to Tin Lizzie is regular commercial, not commercial highway.”
Ruth pointed out that the commission was hearing first reading and the ordinance itself is designed to identify and be consistent with where these establishments can be located.
“Once this becomes official and we apply that, we will be able to place it on a map so everybody can see exactly what the sections are available for dispensaries, for cultivation, manufacturing, or testing,” Ruth said. “Obviously, right now, not having any ag zones, that is limited or non-existent, but that doesn’t mean that somebody couldn’t apply to rezone a property or that we wouldn’t have that in the future.”
Ruth said it is important to understand that the cannabis industry is coming to Deadwood and the state.
“It is important for us, as a commission, to identify where we feel is an appropriate place for that business,” Ruth said. “We certainly don’t want it next to the schools, at the Rec Center, or nearby, because of the park, things of that nature.”
Ruth said he is comfortable with the way the ordinance is currently written and doesn’t feel that it is too restrictive.
“It doesn’t identify or address how many licenses and what those fees or that process would be,” Ruth said. “We still need to have those meetings and work that out.”
Tim Conrad of Deadwood said he is interested in using his former Deadwood Lumber building as a grow facility.
Riggins said the ordinance takes that out as an allowed use.
“The only place that growing is allowed is in the agricultural zones and there aren’t any within city limits right now,” Riggins said. “Part of that, because of discussions that were had with some safety issues, fire and things like that. We don’t want to burn the town down or anything like that.”
Ruth said that’s not to say the ordinance wouldn’t eliminate the building as a distribution facility or that the cultivation part of the ordinance couldn’t be reconsidered.
“It’s just that initially … we’re not prepared to know what cultivation looks like,” Ruth said. “We’re trying to take a cautious approach to ensure that we do it correctly.”
Commissioner Sharon Martinisko said that until city officials educate themselves better, the ordinance, as proposed, stands.
“We really have to think about the safety of the entire town as a potential result of allowing that,” Martinisko said. “But for now, personally, I’m comfortable with saying ‘let’s stay with this until we get better educated.’”
Ruth said city officials also need to be mindful of the fact that when they create an ordinance it can’t be drafted with one specific location in mind.
“So we have to think about, not just the lumber yard, as it pertains to manufacturing, but, another business down the street … not every building is uniquely situated, as yours is as far as being surrounded by concrete and having 20,000 square foot,” Ruth said.
Conrad said he is interested in bringing professionals in to discuss the matter with city officials.
Second reading of the ordinance is anticipated be held at the July 19 city commission meeting.
Ruth invited the public to come and attend if they are interested in the matter.
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