The proposed changes to Independence's local regulations for medical marijuana facilities are heading to the Planning Commission.
City Council Member Karen DeLuccie last month had proposed changes that essentially would have stripped the extra buffer restrictions a council majority approved earlier in the summer, while keeping the special-use-permit requirement. DeLuccie asked Tuesday for an amended to resolution to approve those changes but did not get enough votes. The resolution to send the proposed changes back to the Planning Commission, passed unanimously.
Council Member Scott Roberson offered a resolution to rescind the ordinance for current local restrictions, leaving the state regulations as the de facto guidelines until new local regulations are in place, but it failed by a 3-3 vote. DeLuccie and Mayor Eileen Weir voted with Roberson, while John Perkins, Mike Huff and Tom Van Camp voted no (Curt Dougherty was absent Tuesday due to family commitment). Only Roberson voted with DeLuccie prior to approve the amendment, and both have urged to council to heed legal advice pull back current restrictions to avoid possibly violating the Missouri Constitution.
The current restrictions in Independence do not allow for a marijuana dispensary to be in a historic district or within 2,500 feet of another facility, within 500 feet of any residential district or dwelling or within 1,200 feet of the Truman Library. Some critics have said that zones out all but a small number of spots in the city, potentially reducing access for patients.
Weir said she was not in favor of the proposed amendment because it keeps the special-use permit, something other Missouri cities have not required. However, sending it to the Planning Commission allows for a public hearing.
“What's being considered now, the Planning Commission never saw,” she said.
City staff showed last week that among Blue Springs, Lee's Summit, Springfield, Kansas City, North Kansas City and Columbia, Independence is the only city to have any sort of buffer requirement beyond 1,000 feet, which the state recommended for churches, schools and day cares. Some cities have a particular buffer less than that. Independence is also the only one of the group to require a special-use permit, while Columbia is mulling a series of requirements to the business license process and whether or not to set a distance from City Hall.
Since the state deadline for marijuana facility applications has already passed, Weir said the city doesn't need to press and change its local regulations without properly vetting and hearing people's thoughts.
“It's difficult to get real straight answers from everybody because everybody's figuring it out,” she said of marijuana regulations. “In a full public hearing at Planning Commission, there is no limitation on who can speak.”