City won’t allow cannabis cultivation, manufacturing

Jason Ferguson

Seven months after indefinitely tabling an application for a medical cannabis facility that would have been housed in what is now home to The Hills Self Storage and Black Hills Federal Credit Union, the Custer City Council at a special Nov. 10 meeting voted unanimously to amend the city’s Ordinance No. 873, which contains provisions for cannabis establishments within the city.
The item was originally on the city’s Nov. 7 regular meeting agenda, but when the issue came up at that time, it was tabled until the special Nov. 10 meeting.
At the Nov. 7 meeting a motion was made to approve the first reading of the amended ordinance when Mayor Bob Brown stopped the proceedings and said the issue needed to be tabled.
A motion was then made to table the first reading of the amended ordinance and was approved with alderman Todd Pechota voting against the table.
“I’m trying to understand the rationale to table instead of approving the first reading,” said Pechota, who attended the meeting remotely. “I’ll vote no.”
No explanation was given as to the reason for the tabling of the reading.
At the Nov. 10 meeting the first reading of the amended ordinance passed unanimously. The amended ordinance lowers from one to zero the amount of cultivation, testing and manufacturing facilities for medical marijuana allowed within the city, and also changed the number of dispensaries that will be allowed from an unlimited amount to two. By law the city must have at least one license at the ready for a dispensary.
A first reading of a companion ordinance also had its first reading at the Nov. 10 meeting, an ordinance that deals with zoning for medical cannabis facilities. The amendment removes the cultivation, testing and manufacturing facility verbiage from the ordinance.
The two first readings were passed without discussion from council or the public. The ordinances will have their second and final reading at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 21.
At the April 4 meeting of the council the council  voted unanimously to table an application from  a company called Greenlight “as long as allowed by state law” after members of the public expressed their reservations about having the planned cultivation facility in the city.
The council also heard from Hank Fridell of the Bark Beetle Blues Committee, who asked for and received permission from the city for the usual requests to hold the 2023 Burning Beetle, which will take place Saturday, Jan. 21.
This year will be the 11th year of the Burning Beetle events, and the 10th annual burning of the beetle.
The event schedule includes a 3 p.m. Burning Beetle Variety Show at Custer Jr./Sr. High School’s theater, bringing lit torches from the Vigilance Sculpture on Crook Street to the school parking lot to light torches, the torch march from the school parking lot to Pageant Hill, the burning of the beetle and fireworks and the Bug Crawl downtown.
As always, beetle construction will begin next month in the Custer Volunteer Fire Department Fire Hall, and the torch march, fireworks and burning of the beetle will be under the supervision of the Custer Volunteer Fire Department.
Also back this year will be the creation of a pyre consisting of old Christmas trees. The public will once again be invited to dump their used real Christmas trees at the site to be burned with the beetle.
In other news from the Nov. 7 meeting, the council:
• Heard from Mary Coffin and Dave Hammerquist of the Dakotas Chapter of the Studebaker Car Club, who praised the city and Custer Area Chamber of Commerce for its assistance in helping bring the car show to the city every Labor Day weekend. Coffin said the club also receives “wonderful cooperation” from town business owners and residents.
“Each year we feel like the show gets a little better,” Coffin said.
Coffin added the city is receiving national recognition due to the car show.
“It’s a winning combination,” she said.
• Approved a reduction in the cost of garbage collection in the city. Each residential customer will now be charged $18.20 per month, down from $19.20 per month.
• Approved sending the city’s Showmobile to surplus, and subsequently giving ownership of the Showmobile to Custer YMCA. The resolution declaring the Showmobile surplus property and granting it to the YMCA declared it “no longer necessary, useful or suitable for municipal purposes.”
• Approved a bevy of changes to the employee manual. The changes dealt with job descriptions for the city, including city administrator/finance officer, city planner, public works supervisor and public works foreman.
• Heard from Steve Pischke of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Foresty Committee, which pitched a sign project for Big Rock Park that would see Tallgrass Landscape Architecture provide graphic design for several signs and their mountain at Big Rock Park, The Custer Area Chamber of Commerce and Pageant Hill.
Among the work that would be done would be updating the signs at Pageant Hill and Big Rock Park, providing a new sign for the chamber, providing a new graphic for the Sunrise Point Sign, providing a graphic and mounting concept for a couple wayfinding signs along the trail (warning people of the strenuousness of the hike as well as when they are at the halfway point and top) and providing a concept and coordination with a structure that protects the big signs.
Pischke said the $3,500  design cost could be paid for out of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board budget.
The same is true for the second project Pischke discussed, which would see Tallgrass provide design services for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) access at Gates Park.
This project would see design provided for concrete parking stalls and signage, a concrete sidewalk, drainage, connecting the walk to the park’s picnic area, providing proper ADA access to the play area and providing a gate at the entrance of the play area. This design project has a $3,200 price tag. Both projects were approved by the council.
• Approved a pair of change orders for the Harbach Park project, which saw the city have money refunded due to items not needed or not installed. The council also approved final acceptance of both phases of the project.
• Approved a request from the Custer Volunteer Fire Department to waive fees for a variance setback and conditional use permit for its planned new fire station at the northeast portion of Crook and 7th streets. The council also approved paying for any surveying and other costs associated to condense the multiple lots into a single lot.
• Learned asbestos abatement has concluded at the former elementary building that was to be the community center, and the building will be razed beginning as soon as this week and should be done by early December.
• Learned recycling bins have been delivered to Custer for residents who want to recycle, and 35 to 40 people have signed up for the program to date. Residents can still sign up for the program by contacting city hall.

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