Boonville’s Planning and Zoning commission is researching how to best zone medical marijuana facilities, but a representative of interested parties said the city could miss out entirely if it doesn’t move quickly.
Applicants have to put down a site address when they apply for a permit. Because they’ve gotten an early start on regulations, many groups are putting Moberly and Kirksville down on their applications, Eric Westhues told the commission at a Tuesday meeting.
Westhues is an architect working with several parties who are interested in opening a growing facility in an existing building in Boonville that could bring the city $300,000 a year in sales tax revenue. The state plans to issue 60 growing licenses, and the strongest applicants will be selected, Westhues said.
Moberly has already jumped out to set up regulations, and the Moberly City Council approved restricting marijuana dispensaries to its downtown retail zone on March 18. It also required dispensaries to be at least 100 feet away from schools, public parks, religious institutions and daycares. Kirksville decided to treat dispensaries like pharmacies. Both decided to treat manufacturing facilities like other manufacturing.
“Those were just one, little, two-sentence items that got approved at council meetings with no public hearings.
Fjell said Boonville wanted to wait to see what others did first. She said she’s had people asking about putting in manufacturing facilities and dispensaries in Boonville.
The current plan is to have regulations for the city council to approve by June, she said. Columbia has a similar timeline, and the state won’t finalize its rules until June 4.
Whatever the city decides, nobody is going to set up shop this year. The state has been taking pre-filed application fees since January, but it won’t begin accepting permit applications until Aug. 3. It has until Dec. 31 to give out permits for people who applied the first day.
Commissioners agreed they needed more information before deciding, and Westheus offered to make a presentation at a work session for the commission and other city officials. Planning and Zoning board member Matt Billings suggested calling communities that have dealt with regulating medical marijuana to learn from their experience. Arizona’s medical marijuana system is closest to Missouri’s, so it would be a good idea to check with communities there, Westheus said.
The commission has to decide what zoning classification it will allow cultivation, manufacturing infused products, testing and dispensing, respectively. While the industry is completely new to Boonville, existing zoning regulations could give a framework for the commission to work from.
Restaurants and stores with local commercial district zoning (C-1) can sell alcohol, but they fall under additional regulations. Adult businesses need a special permit. Planning and zoning approves designs for most new construction, and it does additional reviews for the special use permit, according to Fjell.
Existing zoning classifications also allow for similar uses to three of the medical marijuana activities, Fjell wrote in an email to commission members:
Cultivation: Agriculture (R-A) zoning allows nurseries and greenhouses. Central Commercial District Zoning (C-2) allows grain elevators and hay barns.
Marijuana infusion: C-2 zoning allows for dairy, candy, nut, confectionery and other food product manufacturing.
Dispensaries: Local Commercial District (C-1) zoning allows for retail sale. Parts of downtown, Ashley Road and Route 87 currently have C-1 zoning, and other parts of those areas are zoned C-2.
The staff recommends making a separate special use permit for all medical marijuana activities in Boonville, giving planning and zoning more oversight over any development, similar to what the city has for adult stores. A special use permit would let the commission review and approve plans for the facility.
Billings said the city should zone medical marijuana manufacturers like other manufacturers, and zone dispensaries like retailers that sell liquor. He doesn’t like the idea of the special use permit, because the city doesn’t require them for other manufacturers, he said.
“We’re getting to the point where we’re overregulating a lot of stuff,” Billings said.
Amendment 2 requires any kind of medical marijuana facility to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, daycares and religious institutions, but it lets municipalities decide if they want to lessen that restriction. Missouri has a similar law for businesses selling liquor, but they only need to be at least 100 feet away.
The draft ordinance the Planning and Zoning commission looked over on Tuesday left the 1,000-foot restriction for outdoor cultivation facilities in place, but left setback distances blank for closed cultivation, infusion and testing facilities, and dispensaries. Billings said he doesn’t know who a 1,000 foot restriction would help.
“You don’t require 1,000 feet from any other manufacturer,” he said.
Going through the process of getting a special use permit would look good on an application to the state, Westhues said. He would be able to get one, and welcomes the opportunity if it comes soon, he said.
“I don’t want to wait until August to get the chance to do it,” he said. “These people are paying a lot of money to pick a spot and (apply), so we don’t have time to mess around.”
Mayor Ned Beach, sitting on the commission, said he doesn’t want to delay but needs to know more before he can make a decision.
“What we don’t want to do is make a mistake,” he said.