Deadwood rejects cannabis zoning regulation ordinance

Tim Conrad, owner of the former Deadwood Lumber building, wishes to repurpose the property for growing cannabis, but the current ordinance developed by city officials only allows that type of operation in ag zoning, of which Deadwood currently has none.

Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — The second reading of Deadwood’s cannabis establishments zoning ordinance went up in smoke Monday, as the city commission scrapped its second reading of an ordinance, the first reading of which was approved at a special meeting July 12, choosing instead to discuss a new ordinance at a special meeting 8:30 a.m. July 30.

The city originally proposed an ordinance that allows cannabis

establishments in areas zoned ag, commercial highway district, and commercial enterprise district, but stipulated they would not be allowed within 500 feet of a church or park and 1,000 feet of a school or child care facility. This ordinance would have applied equally to both medicinal and recreational use, as well as dispensaries and grow facilities.

Concerns about ag as the only allowed use for cannabis facilities, as five-acre lots are few and far between in Deadwood, was cited as the reason for reconsidering and subsequent abandonment of the previous ordinance.

Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr. asked Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeramy Russell if his office had received comments regarding the initial ordinance.

“Yes, we have. Due to those comments and discussion among the department heads, as well as yourself and a few of the other commissioners, we’ve decided to cancel second reading and present to you guys an edited copy of this version. That first reading will be during our special meeting on July 30,” Russell said.

Ruth said there are substantial enough changes to warrant starting over with a first reading and the commission rejected second reading of the ordinance.

Commissioner Gary Todd said he understood that second reading would be held and that the commission would then adjust to issues as they arose.

“It’s my opinion that once we get direction from the state, we’re going to need to make some changes in our ordinances,” Todd said, asking what the issues were that led to the rejection of second reading and if it was manufacturing and zoning.

“The feedback that we received revolved around the fact that our cultivation facilities, testing facilities, and the manufacturing were only in ag, which we don’t have,” Russell said. “We don’t have any areas in town zoned agricultural and we don’t have very many properties that could be classified or zoned as ag, due to the limits and the requirements for size. So what we were preparing to do before is to allow for cultivation, testing and manufacturing to be added into the commercial highway areas.”

Todd asked why, if the city was in such a big hurry to get the ordinance passed, holding a special meeting to do so, is there no longer a time frame issue.

“I think we need to have second reading and change things as we go,” Todd said.

Ruth said starting over with a newly drafted ordinance July 30 would probably be a quicker route.

Todd said he understood and that if the city wants manufacturing in town, they’re going to have to provide an area that’s compatible.

Commissioner Sharon Martinisko said the way the ordinance is currently written is very restrictive, which is good.

“But the reality is after further review and explanation and potential education, there are areas where the manufacture and the testing and all that could be safely done and the commercial highway is actually pretty limited in our town and so, by restricting it to that, getting it right up front, then, those people who potentially would want to do that, at least, can start thinking,” Martinisko said. “We’re trying to be really careful that we’re writing an ordinance that makes it fair for everybody possible.”

Todd asked if the newly drafted ordinance will allow for manufacturing in the same zones the dispensary would be.

“Yes, commercial highway,” Russell said. “One of the reasons that we’re looking at this direction, Gary, is that we want to make sure that we weren’t putting an ordinance out there that somebody couldn’t use, to protect the city from any legalities. The minimum lot size for ag is five acres and there’s just not a whole lot of properties in and around Deadwood that would allow for that. So we are trying to make sure that this portion of the ordinance, that commercial highway, is fair to the people who at least want to use it. That’s why we made those changes. How you guys decide from here, we understand. We thought these were substantial changes enough that we wanted to put it back in front of you guys again.”

Ruth said Deadwood Legal Counsel Quentin Riggins said the changes would be significant enough that the city would need to start over.

“After getting an explanation as to how large a lot size would have to be to petition to change to ag was five acres, that’s pretty unrealistic,” Ruth said. “That means that we’re putting forth an ordinance that absolutely has no ability for those three components.”

Todd said he is not against manufacturing, and if the city doesn’t have five-acre lots that are available, he is trying to decide if he feels manufacturing and dispensary should be on the same guidelines.

“I think it’s two different things,” Todd said. “We’ve already discussed the fire danger, the odor … do we want the manufacturing 500 feet from a park?”

Russell said the city would only be allowed to have a certain number of facilities, due to the 1,000 feet from a school and 500 feet from a park or church.

“I think we’re still dealing with the same amount of dispensaries or testing facilities that we’re discussing. Again, it’s just where they’re going to be,” Russell said.

Martinisko said the circle prohibiting the facilities encompasses pretty much the entire town.

While Deadwood does not currently have an ag district, the previously proposed ordinance set forth that would be the only area where the cultivation, testing, and manufacturing facilities could be located and the other dispensaries could be located within a commercial enterprise district in Deadwood.

The ordinance also set forth distancing requirements.

There are currently two properties that are zoned commercial enterprise: First Interstate Bank and the Engine House, while Commercial Highway is a section past Main Street, on Charles Street, up past Broken Boot, Bunk House, and beyond, down Highway 14A or Highway 85.

Main Street was not being considered for the previous ordinance, as 1,000 feet from Deadwood Elementary School runs down to Wall Street and everything north of that on Main Street to Tin Lizzie is regular commercial, not commercial highway.

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