The Milbank City Council held a special meeting tonight, Monday, August 30, in the Community Room of The Milbank Visitor Center. The meeting was scheduled to provide for the second reading of Ordinance 838 and the second reading of Ordinance 839.
Ordinance 838 was proposed to amend:
Section 17.11.02, “PERMITTED USES” [B1 – LIMITED BUSINESS DISTRICT], TO AMEND SECTION 17.12.02, “PERMITTED USES” [B2 –CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT] AND SECTION 17.13.02, “PERMITTED USES” [B3 – HIGHWAY BUSINESS DISTRICT]; ARTICLE IV, “SUPPLEMENTAL REGULATIONS; AND ARTICLE V, DEFINITIONS, ADOPTED BY ORDINANCE 682, AS AMENDED, OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF MILBANK.
Ordinance 839 was proposed to add:
Chapter 113 to the Revised Ordinance of the City of Milbank Creating Licensing Provisions for Cannabis Establishments.
Mayor Pat Raffety opened the meeting to the public for comments and discussion. No one was forthcoming. The mayor closed the floor to the public and opened it up for board input.
Councilman Hanson addressed his fellow board members by saying he had been absent last week and had not had the opportunity to comment on the topic. He went on to say:
I have done some research on how this all evolved and where we got to today with the state voting on it. There’s still a lot to happen and I want to add my opinion after seeing what happened last week. I would like to see it (the number of dispensaries approved) go to one. It’s not that I am opposed to two, but it is easier to go from one to two, than two to one, if we ever want to back them off. My understanding is it is very easy to add another one if we have to. So, I would recommend changing it from two to one.
Hanson also posed the question: “Will recreational (sales) piggyback right off this one?”
Milbank City Attorney Mark Reedstrom replied, “No.”
Hanson challenged him with, “How can it not?”
This Ordinance has to do with medical cannabis, which is very regulated by the state. In order to buy from a dispensary, you have to have a card. To get a card, you have to go to the doctor, have a physical examination, and get a prescription. You actually have to have one of the illnesses listed to qualify for a card.
Hanson said he understands the process, but was questioning if recreational cannabis is approved, would the same (medical cannabis) establishment be able to sell it for recreational use?
Reedstrom responded, “No. People won’t be able to buy recreational cannabis from these facilities.”
Hanson then asked, “But is it possible these facilities could get a license to sell it for recreational use, too?”
Reedstrom replied, “I don’t think so.”
Hanson came back with:
But we don’t know the future. That is why I say, ’Let’s just have one until we do know.’ Then, once we know, we can allow two. We could be signing up to have two recreational dispensaries in Milbank. I don’t know if people in my ward really want that. I know for a fact that Grant County doesn’t want that. If you look at the (election) results, Grant County voted for medical marijuana, but cast a ‘No’ vote for recreational. No matter what my feelings are, I think I need to respect what Grant County voters want, not what Mike Hanson wants.
Steve Wiener suggested that regardless of the number of dispensaries approved, use will still be controlled or limited by how many people will qualify. “We can have 17 gas stations in this town but only five will survive,” he said. “How many people in Grant County are going to qualify for medical marijuana?”
Hanson said, “These are all questions we don’t know the answers to. That is why I am erring on the side of caution. Like I said, we can always add more. We can add five if we want to in two years, but until we know how this is all going to shake out…”
Mayor Raffetty then asked if anyone else had additional points for discussion. No one was forthcoming. Raffety then asked for a motion on Ordinance 838.
Hanson made a motion to approve 838 with a change from two dispensaries to one. Raffety asked for a second on the motion. No second was brought forth and the motion failed.
Raffety asked for another motion. Wiener made a motion to pass ordinance 838 as presented. Briggs seconded. Ordinance 838 passed with a vote of 6-0.
Rogers then made a motion to pass Ordinance 839. The motion was seconded by Karels. Ordinance 839 passed with a vote of 6-0.
In other unrelated business, the council voted to authorize the mayor to sign documents to install the Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS III-P) at the Milbank Airport and acquire easements for approaches. The equipment was funded using a $370,000 grant.
The council also approved a quote from Bates Construction for a new hole at the city’s rubble site. The cost will be $31,999.98. Two other bids came in higher.