The Milbank City Council met jointly with the City of Milbank’s planning and zoning commission in a special meeting on Monday, August 23, to conduct a public hearing regarding the zoning of medical cannabis (marijuana) dispensaries in Milbank.
Up for approval were Ordinance 838, which makes changes to the city’s zoning laws to provide for medical cannabis (marijuana) dispensaries, and Ordinance 839, which outlines the guidelines necessary to obtain a license to open a dispensary.
Proposed versions of the two ordinances were available for public review before the
meeting. Both versions originated from state-generated templates and assistance from First District — an association of local governments that promotes regional development in northeast South Dakota by providing professional services to local units of government.
Mark Reedstrom, attorney for the City of Milbank, recapped how the passage of IM26, made medical cannabis legal in South Dakota, but finalization of state rules from the department of health are still pending. He explained South Dakota voters also passed Amendment A to make recreational marijuana use legal, but the new law is being challenged in court, and the South Dakota Supreme Court has not returned a ruling. “For that reason,” Reedstrom said, “the ordinances under consideration only apply to medical cannabis.”
Regarding Ordinance 838:
Bob Frink, chairperson of Milbank’s planning and zoning commission, fielded questions from the Milbank residents and commission members at the meeting and guided the group through each segment of the proposed ordinance.
Frink stated the proposed hours of operation were 8 a.m. until midnight on Monday through Saturday. He noted they could be changed to mimic the hours kept by local pharmacies. Connie Larson, a member of the planning and zoning board, and Chris Waldner, a Milbank resident, both spoke in agreement to keep the hours as stated.
Waldner, who also expressed interest in opening a dispensary, requested clarification about the part of the ordinance that states it is unlawful to operate a dispensary in a building that contains a residence or is a multiple-use building. Waldner said, “This rule eliminates several Main Street buildings with apartments in the upper level as possible sites. Milbank City Administrator John Forman explained, “We don’t have the latitude to change that. It’s already part of the state law.”
Upon satisfaction of their questions, the planning and zoning board concluded their discussions.
Changes the planning and zoning commission authorized for proposed Ordinance 838:
- To increase the limit from a maximum of one cannabis dispensary in the City of Milbank to a maximum of two dispensaries.
- To keep the state-mandated setback from private and public schools at 1,000 feet, but decrease the required setback from public parks from 500 to 300 feet — the same distance required by businesses that sell alcohol.
- To allow dispensaries in all of Milbank’s business districts — zones B1, B2, and B3 instead of just B3, also known as the highway business district.
- To remove “2021” and replace it with “current” in reference to the conformity of structures to international building and fire codes.
The planning and zoning board then moved to recommend the Milbank City Council vote to adopt Ordinance 838 as amended. The planning and zoning board’s vote passed with a unanimous vote of 6 to 0. Members present included: Frink, Larson, Sharon Pinkert, Jason Sackreiter, and Dick Schmeichel. Renee Osborne voted remotely.
The city council members then discussed the revisions the zoning board had made. In reference to the number of dispensaries, Mayor Raffety said, “I think one is a very good number for our community, but for the sake of healthy competition, two is probably the correct number,” Council member Mindy Rogers suggested a higher number might be better in preparation for the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.
Regarding the setback requirements, council member Josh Karels suggested adding daycares and preschools to the 300-foot setback category. John Forman cautioned the group not to make the distance too great as the number of daycares in Milbank might preclude potential business owners from finding an acceptable location.
Council member Scott Hoeke moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 838, with the additional amendment of schools and daycares to the setback as suggested by Karels.
Council members Roger Briggs, Hoeke, Karels, Rogers, and Steve Wiener voted to approve the first reading of Ordinance 838. Councilman Mike Hanson was absent.
After approving the first reading of Ordinance 838, the city council conducted the first reading of Ordinance 839, which creates the licensing provisions for cannabis establishments. No changes were made to the proposed document.
The main points of the Ordinance 839 include:
- The number of dispensaries in the City of Milbank is limited to two.
- No dispensary can operate from 12:01-7:59 a.m. on any day of the week.
- No dispensary is allowed to operate in the City of Milbank without a valid current license issued by the city and a registration certificate issued by the State of South Dakota as outlined in South Dakota codified Law 34-20g.
- An application fee of $5000 is required — $2500 is non refundable and $2,500 will be reimbursed if the applicant fails to obtain a state certificate.
- A license expires in one year unless renewed. The license can be revoked in response to a specific list of violations.
- The application will include the proposed name of the dispensary and the physical address, which must meet the zoning requirements.
- The application must include the name, address, and birthdate of each principal officer, owner, and/or board member of the proposed business.
- The application must include a sworn statement that no principal officer, owner, or board member has been convicted of a violent felony in the previous 10 years.
- The application includes a possible request for additional information.
A special meeting of the Milbank City Council will be held on Monday, August 30, at 7 p.m. for the second reading of both Ordinance 838 and Ordinance 839. The meeting is open to the public.