Downtown Mitchell could be making progress toward its first medical marijuana dispensary.

After resident Tara Volesky purchased a downtown property, located at 100 W. Fifth Ave., she said a Sioux Falls medical cannabis entrepreneur saw it as an ideal location to operate a dispensary.

Emmett Reistroffer, owner of Sioux Falls-based Genesis Farms LLC, is seeking to open a medical marijuana dispensary inside Volesky’s downtown building that sits on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street. Reistroffer submitted an application with the city to attain a dispensary license for his plan to bring downtown Mitchell its first dispensary.

“This building came to me all by chance, and it is a great spot for Emmett (Reistroffer) to open his business,” Volesky said. “I’m sure there will be some dispensaries out by the interstate, but there could be nothing downtown.”

However, the close proximity of a local church will add more obstacles for the dispensary plan to materialize. According to the city’s zoning codes, a medical cannabis dispensary cannot be within 300 feet of a church. Volesky’s building is fewer than 300 feet away from the Word of Life Church across the street, which means Reistroffer would need to seek a variance for the dispensary to open its doors.

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Mayor Bob Everson said Reistroffer would also be required to apply for a conditional use permit to open the dispensary due to the building being located in a central business district. Though the dispensary would be within 300 feet from the Word of Life Church, located at 420 N. Main St., Everson indicated the City Council could approve Reistroffer's application to operate a dispensary through granting him a variance and conditional use permit. The council will consider the application at its next meeting.

After receiving one application for a dispensary during the city’s application opening that ended on Oct. 29, it leaves four dispensary licenses available in Mitchell. Since there was one application, the city didn’t have to use its lottery system. With the City Council’s recent approval of Jordon Raftis’ dispensary license -- the first application to be submitted and approved in Mitchell -- the remaining four dispensary applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Considering Mitchell allows a maximum of five dispensary licenses to operate at any given time, Reistroffer’s recent application is among the four that have been submitted as of now, giving him a strong chance of attaining his license, depending on whether his building meets the city’s codes and the conditional use permit is granted by the council.

Reistroffer is familiar with the application process, as he was among the five applicants to secure a dispensary license in the city of Sioux Falls after being drawn in the city’s lottery system. While the maximum number of dispensaries that can operate at any given time in Sioux Falls is capped at five, Reistroffer submitted 26 applications, each costing $75,000, in hopes of boosting his chances of being drawn in the lottery system. The application fee for a dispensary license in Mitchell is $5,000, a steep drop from Sioux Falls' application fee.

Proposed building improvements

Whether the medical marijuana dispensary clears all the hurdles to open shop at the Main Street location, Volesky has plans to bring some major improvements to the building.

During Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, the board approved Volesky’s remodeling plans, which includes exterior work and interior cosmetic upgrades. Her exterior plans call for adding a courtyard on the empty patch of concrete on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street and replacing the awning on the building facing Main Street.

“She is going to replace existing doors, tuck point and place brick on the front. It’s in the historical district, and her plan has been sent to the State Historic Preservation Office,” City Planner Mark Jenniges said during Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

With the current tenants occupying some of the spaces in the building, such as attorney Chris Nipe, Volesky said the goal is to upgrade the building to accommodate the existing tenants and attract some new ones as well.

By investing in the old downtown building and creating a courtyard, Volesky said she hopes it will provide another shot of revitalization of Mitchell’s Main Street, which city leaders have been focused on over the past few years.

“Main Street is the heartbeat of any town, and I’m going to make this place look great,” she said.