Deadwood hears amended medical cannabis zoning regulations, licensing provisions

With further amended zoning regulations for medical cannabis, Deadwood city officials are trying to protect the historic district. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Monday, the Deadwood City Commission heard first reading of amended zoning and licensing provisions for medical cannabis establishments.

The zoning regulations ordinance is now very specific regarding where the establishments can be located. The licensing ordinance now includes provisions for medical cannabis dispensaries, cultivation, product manufacturing, and testing facilities.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeramy Russell addressed the commission regarding the amended zoning regulation.

“One of the big changes to this was out of our series of work sessions that we had,” Russell said. “City staff heard your request to protect our historic core and our Main Street area and we did that.”

Russell then referred to Ordinance #1348, chapter 17.77, Section H, which now states: “Cannabis Establishments are strictly prohibited in the following areas: 478-908 Main Street, all of Lee Street, all of Siever Street, all of Deadwood Street, all of Pine Street, 37-175 Sherman Street, and all R1 Residential and R2 Residential Multi-Family Zoning.”

Commissioner Sharon Martinisko clarified that was the main change for the amended ordinance, in an effort to protect the historic district.

Russell said city staff worked with Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker to establish the prohibited areas, which includes the historic district.

Deadwood Legal Counsel Quentin Riggins addressed Ordinance #1349 amending Chapter 5.56, the Revised Ordinances for Creating Licensing Provisions for Medical Cannabis Establishments Including Dispensaries, Cultivation, Product Manufacturing and Testing Facilities.

“This is an amendment to the existing licensing procedure, because when we originally passed your licensing procedure, we only passed it for dispensaries,” Riggins said.  “You did not pass any licensing for cultivation facilities, cannabis product manufacturing facilities, and cannabis testing facilities. So, what we did is we added the criteria for those three licenses to the existing licensing ordinance that dealt with dispensary. It also includes a licensing fees for these licenses, which sets the same fee as was originally set for the dispensaries, but it does also include some price reductions if an individual purchases multiple licenses for the same location or the same ownership of joint properties. That’s the only changes to the original ordinance, other than there is also a change that deals with the fact that a license can be transferred through the estate of a decedent who owns a license. We did not have that previously in the ordinance.”

Aaron Jorgenson, of Woody’s Old Time Photos on Deadwood’s Main Street, and Jill and Todd Weber of Lucky Horse on Deadwood’s Main Street, were in attendance at the meeting and expressed concerns with the number of licensed establishments that may result in Deadwood, as there is currently no restriction on the number of licenses.

Jorgenson said a boom and bust will likely occur before the playing field levels out.

“I feel that that boom and bust could ultimately come to a detriment to the ultimate culture of Deadwood,” Jorgenson said, urging strongly that the commission set a limit on the number of establishments.

Martinisko said the zoning map and the zoning regulations that don’t allow an establishment to be within 100 feet of another establishment boundary, address those concerns.

“We chose not to do a number for a variety of reasons,” Martinisko said. “We feel strongly that the zoning, as we continue to improve it and look at things, trying to … catch any loopholes as we go along, that the zoning itself should govern this.”

Jill Weber agreed with setting a limit on the number of establishments, questioning why, when there is a limit on the number of livery licenses and liquor licenses, for example.

“It’s easier to add and it’s harder to take away,” Jill said.

Martinisko said a look at the zoning map reveals six possible establishments, at the most.

“With the zoning map, we felt very comfortable that this was the only way to allow a limited number,” Martinisko said. “And that’s to start with and we’re talking medical … we have to allow for businesses to have the opportunity to try and succeed and if they don’t, that’s on them. We sat our application fee on a number that we felt would make sure that whoever’s coming in has their business stuff together. Because we’re not set at $1,500 like other places in our area. We’re set at $30,000.”

Mayor David Ruth, Jr. said each community is different.

“And we weigh what we feel is appropriate for our community,” Ruth said, adding that the commission firmly believes in free market. “If you look at our zoning map, there are only certain locations that would be eligible and to limit beyond that would be then to be accused of giving preferential treatment to people in these areas, that we were hand-selecting the one or two or three and that is not our intention. That is not what we, as the city, are trying to do.”

Mike Walker of NeighborWorks was in attendance and informed the commission that the tenants in NeighborWorks-owned Hills Apartments, which uses federal funds.

“Due to the fact that it is a federally funded program, it is still illegal, federally, we have been notified that we are required to serve notice to all of our tenants and in the event, somebody is caught with medical or other marijuana on the property, they are required to be evicted,” Walker said.

Commissioner Gary Todd said he wanted the audience to know the commission doesn’t take the issue lightly.

“I guarantee you, we don’t sit up here taking this lightly,” Todd said. “We want what’s best for Deadwood, bottom line. So if you think we’re trying to destroy the town, by naming it Deadweed, you’re way off base. We’re trying to protect it.”

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