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Mitchell City Council approves one medical marijuana dispensary license, sidelines three due to zoning issues

The remaining three applications were tabled in part due to their proposed dispensary locations falling within 1,000 feet from the Missouri group’s dispensary that’s planned to go inside the Runnings building when the retailer moves.

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Tara Volesky recently purchased the building on the Northwest corner of North Main Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

The Mitchell City Council approved another medical marijuana dispensary license, but sidelined three applications due the city’s zoning codes.

Among the four dispensary applications that were submitted to the city, a Missouri-based medical cannabis company that will do business as BWD Mitchell was the one to receive the council’s unanimous approval during Monday's regular Mitchell City Council meeting. The remaining three applications were tabled in part due to the proposed dispensary locations falling within 1,000 feet from the Missouri group’s dispensary that’s planned to go inside the Runnings building when the retailer moves across the street into the former Kmart building.

As part of the city’s zoning codes for medical marijuana establishments, a dispensary cannot be within 1,000 feet of another dispensary without a variance being issued. That means the three applications tabled Monday will be required to get a variance for the dispensaries to be approved by the council. The city Planning and Zoning Commission will consider approving the variances, which City Attorney Justin Johnson said could take place on Jan. 10, 2022, at the earliest. After the Planning Commission considers the variances, it would send the applications back to the council for approval.

“Each of the applications that you have were reviewed by staff and meet the requirements, but there are some variances that will be needed for some of them,” Johnson said.

While the city had a lottery system in place for applicants to enter to secure a dispensary license, one was submitted prior to the Oct. 29 lottery deadline. That eliminated the need for conducting a lottery since there weren’t more than five applications submitted. Once the deadline hit, the city began accepting dispensary, cultivation, manufacturing and testing facility applications on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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Mayor Bob Everson noted BWD Mitchell’s application was submitted before all three of the applications that were tabled.

“Had the Runnings building application not been approved first, this one, for example, would have met all requirements to be approved tonight,” Everson said.

BWD Mitchell’s dispensary would be dubbed BesaMe Wellness. The group operates nine BesaMe Wellness dispensaries in the state of Missouri, with locations in Kansas City, Joplin and Smithville, to name a few. While most of the applicants who submitted on behalf of BWD Mitchell are Missouri residents, the vice president of the company is a South Dakota resident, as required by the city’s medical cannabis licensing regulations.

As construction work advances at the 1313 S. Burr St. building, Runnings is inching closer to opening at the new and improved location, which would free up the 1400 S. Burr St. building for the group to transform into a medical cannabis business.

Three applications sidelined pending variance approval

Mitchell resident Donald Livesay Jr.’s application for a dispensary was sidelined due to his proposed 501 E. Juniper Ave. location being within 1,000 feet from the 1400 S. Burr St. Runnings building.

A Native American cannabis group out of Flandreau is seeking to open a dispensary location inside a suite at the 1620 S. Burr St. strip mall, but it too is less than 1,000 feet from the Runnings building, resulting in it being tabled by the council.

Native Nations Cannabis will be required to receive two variances to operate at the 1620 S. Burr St. location due to the close proximity of Mitchell Technical College, which is located at 1800 E. Spruce St. While MTC’s property line boundary is more than 1,000 feet from the strip mall, Johnson said the Interstate 90 right-of-ways are excluded from factoring into the property line distance, which puts Native Nations’ proposed dispensary location within 1,000 feet of the local college.

“The location for this one is in the visitor center building with Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Anytime Fitness is within 1,000 feet from the Runnings location if you remove the 66 feet of right of way from Norway Avenue,” Johnson said. “In addition, we have an odd issue with the distance to MTC. If you measure property line to property line, it is about 1,700 feet from MTC, but the problem is everything in between is interstate right-of-way.”

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Native Nations Cannabis was South Dakota's first medical marijuana dispensary to open after the state legalized medicinal cannabis via a voter approved measure on the November 2020 ballot. Native Nations Cannabis has been operating a dispensary on the Flandreau Indian Reservation since July.

For Emmett Reistroffer, a Sioux Falls-based medical marijuana entrepreneur, his proposed dispensary location that sits on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street will also require two variances due the close proximity of two downtown churches.

According to the city’s zoning codes, a medical cannabis dispensary cannot be within 300 feet of a church without an approved variance.

The 100 W. Fifth Ave. building that Reistroffer is seeking to open a dispensary in was recently purchased by Mitchell resident Tara Volesky, who is hoping to bring downtown Mitchell its first marijuana dispensary. However, the Word of Life Church across the street and a Hispanic church next to the Fifth Avenue apartment building are both within 300 feet from Volesky’s building.

“There is also a church in the old Moonlight bar, which requires a variance. In addition, this will require a conditional use permit due to being in the central business district,” Johnson said.

Inching closer to reaching cannabis dispensary cap

Since the city began accepting applications in early October, the council has approved one. Jordan Raftis’ dispensary application was the first to receive the green light.

Now that two applications have been approved, it brings Mitchell closer to reaching its cap of five medical cannabis dispensary licenses. Mitchell could reach its cap if the three remaining applicants secure their respective variances and receive council approval.

Raftis is set to open his dispensary, Superior Buds, in a suite inside the 1005 E. Spruce St. strip mall on the south end of Mitchell, near Walmart. The earliest that he and the latest approved applicant could open their cannabis businesses is Jan. 1, 2022.

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If the council denies any of the applications, the eight-person governing body has the option to refund the $5,000 application fee.

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