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City sets marijuana offset at 500 feet

Two residents of Jackson spoke out against a proposed ordinance that regulates where medical marijuana can be cultivated, tested and dispensed in the City of Jackson during a public hearing July 15.

The draft ordinance prevented marijuana from being cultivated, tested or dispensed within 100 feet of a previously existing state-licensed daycare, church, or public or private school. The measurement was a straight line distance from building to building. The 100-foot distance was used in the ordinance because that is the distance that city ordinances use for liquor, and medical marijuana was considered to be in a similar category.

Former Alderman David Bertrand said he thought 100 feet was not far enough away, for 100 feet is just the distance from home plate to second base on a baseball diamond, or was less than the frontage of his property. He recommended that the Board of Aldermen change the distance to 500 feet, “similar to what the City of Cape has run with.”

He worried about the future of Jackson if marijuana is dispensed only 100 feet from schools. In many cases, schools are more than 100 feet from the street, so marijuana could be dispensed next to school properties. “I’d like to see it more than 500 feet,” he concluded.

Bertrand also wondered, because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, would it affect federal grants to the City if it’s allowed in Jackson. Does it need to be kept away from federal buildings, such as the post office?

City Attorney Tom Ludwig said he has not seen any cases where medical marijuana has affected federal grants in other states that have allowed medical marijuana. The proposed Jackson ordinance copies language from the state statute and does not allow for any ties to federal buildings.

Brian Thompson of Jones Pharmacy stated that medical marijuana is not legal to be dispensed in any pharmacy. He was opposed to the dispensing of medical marijuana  in Jackson because it does not require a trained person to dispense it. He said medical marijuana is typically a cash business because credit cards cannot be accepted, but cash from marijuana sales cannot be deposited in a bank, he said. “To me it seems a little shady. I would not like this in Jackson at all. It scares me as to what kind of element this brings into Jackson.”

Ludwig reminded Thompson and the Board that the medical marijuana law has been passed in the State of Missouri and Jackson cannot ban medical marijuana. All Jackson has the power to do is set up zoning laws defining where marijuana establishments can be in the city.

Alderman Katy Liley said she thought a medical marijuana dispensary would be similar to a pharmacy. However, after hearing Thomp-son’s comments, she favored 500 feet over 100 feet.

The Board approved the zoning ordinance with the distance of 500 feet.

In other action:

• Financial statement: The Board approved the semiannual financial statement for the City.

• Public hearings set: A public hearing was set for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, to consider the proposed 2019 parks and recreation, general revenue, cemetery and band tax rates.

A second public hearing was set for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 5, to consider the rezoning of 2370 N. High St. from C-2 (general commercial) to I-1 (light industrial), as submitted by MAMCO Investments.

MAMCO has a potential tenant who would rent the middle building of three that exist at this location if it were zoned I-1.

During study session, the Board seemed concerned about “spot zoning” if they only changed the zoning of the middle tract; they were not inclined to force a zoning change on the northern and southern tracts that were not requested by their owners. It was suggested that MAMCO could request a special use permit to accomplish the same thing as a zoning change.

• Disposal of records: It was recorded in the minutes that the City disposed of records which had met their retention life and were destroyed in compliance with state law.

• Accepting warranty deed: The Board accepted a general warranty deed from Rosamund A. Welker for a two-acre tract of land at 424 Howard St.

• Code of Ethics: The Board readopted Chapter 1, Article 8 of the Code of Ordinances relative to ethics.

• Sewer ordinances: The Board updated sewer ordinances to reflect the existing pretreatment program requirements issued by the EPA and DNR.

• Sanitary sewer extension: The Board accepted the $1,306,689.10 bid of Jokerst, Inc., of Ste. Genevieve, and entered into a contract with the company relative to the Williams Creek Sanitary Sewer Extension Program, Phase 1.

• Russell Heights storage building: The Board accepted the $106,450 bid of Zoellner Construction Co. of Perryville and entered into contract with the company to build a storage building at Russell Heights Cemetery.

• Diverging diamond: During study session, the Board learned that MoDOT’s latest plan regarding construction of a diverging diamond intersection at Center Junction now called for leaving U.S. Hwy. 61 open both directions for through traffic between Cape and Jackson but will close both I-55 ramps on the north side of U.S. Hwy. 61.

• New police station: The Board was updated on the progress of construction of the new Jackson police station. Although the construction schedule has slipped 21 days because of weather, the contractor believes lost time will be made up and the project will be finished on time.

• New combined 911 dispatch: The Board was updated on the new 911 dispatch center that will be in the sheriff’s office but will combine County and Jackson dispatch services.

Furniture is currently being installed. “It will be really a top-notch-looking facility,” said JPD Captain Scott Eakers. There are eight radio console stations waiting for radios to be installed. These will allow dispatchers to handle up to eight crises at one time. These radios will cost $1,028,000. The City of Jackson will pay half ($514,000) and the County will pay half.

The City would have to pay this much for new equipment in the new police station if not for this combined project. The City is saving money (and space) by not having 911 dispatch in the new police station, Eakers said.

Dispatchers will no longer work for just the City or just the County, but will work for both.

“Cooperation between the County and City governments has really made this work,” said City Administrator Jim Roach.

• New park pavilion: The Board discussed options to replace Shelter No. 5 in City Park that was blown down in the June 21 storm. This shelter has one of the largest parking lots nearby but it was about the same size as most of the other shelters.

Staff will bring back a cost comparison of what it will take to rebuild it at its original size and as a slightly larger pavilion.

• 5G Cell communication: In study session, the Board discussed the coming of 5G cell phone communications.

5G cell communication does not use the same kind of cell towers that other cell communications use. It requires units about the size of large cereal boxes that must be affixed to city power poles, light poles or public buildings.

“There’s going to be dozens and dozens of these around town,” said Roach. There also will be buried fiber-optic cable connecting these devices.

The Board will vote on an ordinance at a future meeting that will regulate the installation and maintenance of these devices on City rights-of-way.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at

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