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Mitchell City Council to consider granting variances for three medical marijuana dispensaries

Planning Commission recently denied recommending two of the three of variances due to zoning code violations

Shown here is the 1620 S. Burr St. location in Mitchell, where a Flandreau-based group is proposing to open a medical marijuana dispensary. For the dispensary to open, Native Nations Cannabis must secure two variances for being within 1,000 feet of a college and another dispensary.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic
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The Mitchell City Council will decide the fate of three medical marijauana dispensaries on Tuesday with its consideration to approve the variances required for the dispensaries to open.

Among the three medical marijuana dispensaries required to secure variances to operate in Mitchell, Flandreau-based Native Nations Cannabis was the lone entity that recently had its variances approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

However, the Planning Commission denied the remaining two dispensaries’ variances at the Jan. 12 meeting due to one of them falling within 300 feet of a church and the other being less than 1,000 feet from another dispensary location, which are both considered breaches of the city’s medical cannabis zoning codes. The Planning Commission’s decisions on the variances are purely recommendations, which means the council will ultimately have the final say in whether the variances receive the green light during the 6 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at City Hall.

Council meetings are typically held on the first and third Mondays of the month, but this week was pushed back due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Emmett Reistroffer, owner of Sioux Falls-based Genesis Farms LLC, and Donald Livesay Jr., a Mitchell business owner, are among the two individuals who are heading into Tuesday’s council meeting with recommendations for their variances to be denied.


For Reistroffer’s plan to open a dispensary at 100 W. Fifth Ave. in downtown Mitchell, the Sioux Falls medical marijuana entrepreneur is required to secure a variance due to its close proximity to a local church. The city’s code states a medical marijuana establishment must be at least 300 feet away from a church, unless a variance is approved.

Shown here is the Fifth Avenue and Main Street building that a Sioux Falls entrepreneur is seeking to open a medical marijuana dispensary. Tara Volesky recently purchased the building on the Northwest corner of North Main Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Mitchell.
Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic

Reistroffer’s proposed location came up against some opposition from nearby property owners, such as Rev. Bill Parks, the leader of Word of Life Church in downtown Mitchell, who is opposing the Fifth Avenue and Main Street location.

Despite receiving some pushback from a few Mitchell residents, Reistroffer says his dispensary would be a “secure, professional” business that blends in with the aesthetics of the surrounding area along Main Street. Although Reistroffer’s variance was recently denied recommendation, his conditional use permit to operate in a central business district was approved by the Planning Commission.

“We are good neighbors, and I really don’t see the negative. I think folks who are skeptical will see that in due time,” Reistroffer said during the Jan. 12 Planning Commission meeting. “We want to conform to the neighborhood, aesthetically.”

Livesay Jr.’s proposed dispensary location at 501 E. Juniper Ave. needs a variance because it falls within 1,000 feet of another dispensary that was recently approved by the council.

After the council approved a Missouri-based group’s medical cannabis dispensary license in early December, which was submitted prior to Livesay’s application, it put his proposed dispensary within 1,000 feet from the Missouri group’s dispensary that will be located inside the former Runnings building.

Livesay’s attorney, Nick Moser, recently argued the proposed Juniper Avenue location is far enough away from the nearby 1400 S. Burr St. for the council to consider granting the variance. Like Reistroffer, Livesay’s variance request has also sparked some opposition from a nearby property owner, whose attorney, Doug Dailey, echoed the nearby property owners concerns that the dispensary could cause an influx of traffic and public safety issues.

The council is also expected to discuss parking concerns that recently surfaced for Livesay’s dispensary building.


As for Native Nations’ proposed dispensary location at 1620 S. Burr St. inside the strip mall along Interstate 90, the council would have to approve two variances for the Flandreau-based group to open the dispensary on the south side of Mitchell. Both variances are required due to the location falling within 1,000 feet of an educational institution and another dispensary.

However, what makes Native Nations variances unique from Livesay’s is the right-of-ways being factored into the distance separating the location from Mitchell Technical College and the dispensary planned to go inside the former Runnings building. If that right-of-ways were included in the distance between MTC and the 1400 S. Burr St. dispensary, Native Nations’ proposed medical marijuana establishment would technically be over 1,000 feet away from both.

For Livesay, the Juniper Avenue building is within 1,000 feet of another dispensary even with the right-of-way being factored into the distance.

Consent agenda

The following items will be considered as part of the consent agenda:

  • Approve the minutes and reports from the following meetings: Jan. 3 City Council meeting.
  • Hear quarterly report from the Mitchell Area Development Corporation. 
  • Approve grant agreement with Medica Foundation.
  • Approve agreement to accept grant funds from the South Dakota Department of Transportation. The grant would provide a new secure entry system for Palace Transit’s bus drivers and staff. 
  • Approve agreement to accept grant funds from the SD DOT for new software that will be used by Palace Transit dispatch officias.
  • Approve agreement to accept grant funds from the SD DOT for vehicle cameras inside the Palace Transit buses.
  • Approve request to apply for Homeland Security grant.
  • Approve request to apply for grant through FEMA’s adequate fire and emergency response grant program. 
  • Approve Dakota Riptide’s raffle permit to be held on Mar. 6, 2022.
  • Approve declaring items at the Mitchell Recreation Center as surplus.
  • Approve 2020 property abatements for taxes that are payable in 2021.
  • Approve change order with Mueller Lumber for the old Rec Center pool infill project.
  • Approve change order to Blackstrap, Inc., for rock salt project.
  • Set the date for the following alcohol license hearings to be heard Feb. 7: Corn Palace Shrine Club’s application for a special event liquor license located at the Masonic Hall  for a corn hole tournament on Mar. 5.
  • Approve Jan. 18 pay estimates.
  • Approve bills, payroll, salary adjustments, new employee hires, authorization of recurring payments and other expenses.

Other business

  • Recite pledge of allegiance and receive invocation from First United Methodist church.
  • Hear citizens input.
  • Meet as Board of Adjustment.
  • Reconvene as City Council.
  • Approve $20,000 in contingency funds to cover the costs of installing playground equipment at Kiwanis Park.
  • Approve purchase of playground equipment for the Kiwanis Playground project.
  • Approve utility and right-of-way certificate for the city to move forward with the Foster Street bridge improvement project.
  • Approve agreement for design and bidding services for the Ohlman Street and 23rd Avenue lift station. The council will consider approving SPN and Associates to take on the $49,500 design and bidding services phase of the project.
  • Approve agreement to accept grants fund from the SD DOT for two new Palace Transit buses.
  • Approve dissolving Tax Increment Financing District No. 18.
  • Approve Resolution No. R2022-03, a plat of lot 1 of Plain's Addition, in the city of Mitchell, as requested by Plains Commerce Bank.
  • Approve Resolution No. R2022-04, a plat of lot 5, block 1 of Woodland Heights First Addition, a subdivision of lot 2, Crane's Addition, in the city of Mitchell, as requested by Ethan Lumber Co-op.
  • Hear transportation study by HDR.
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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