A huge crowd showed up for last Thursday night’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting  to express opinions — all negative — about Ste. Genevieve native David Kertz’s request for a special use permit to operate a medical marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facility at 1040 Rozier Street.

The meeting took more than an hour, pushing the start of the Board of Aldermen’s scheduled 6:30 p.m. budget work session past 7 p.m.

The Planning and Zoning Commission had agreed on amendments to the city code regarding medical marijuana businesses during a March work session. The changes were adopted by the Board of Aldermen later in the spring.

David Bova, community development administrator, had warned the Planning and Zoning members at the time that there could be no “death by zoning,” meaning local governments could not enact any statutes that would be “unduly burdensome” to medical marijuana businesses operating legally under Missouri law.

Voters in November 2018 passed an amendement to the Missouri Constitution to legalize medical marijuana.

The city of Ste. Genevieve adopted the most stringent allowable guidelines, stating that any such facilities must be at least 1,000 feet away from all schools, day-care centers and churches, and must be 200 feet away from any residentially-zoned district or public park.

Most of those attending Thursday’s meeting seemed to have the idea that the city could simply choose not to allow marijuana businesses in town. ...

Bova related that the property — formerly the GrandPa’s store and more recently a Sabreliner plant — is in an I-1 Light Industrial zone in a partially occupied facility. It is bordered by Valle Spring Trail, Trautman Industrial Court, Route M and Ochs Furniture.

Bova said it meets the local code for such facilities.

One of the biggest issues brought up was the potential odor. Bova said part of the stipulation the certificate would include was that the applicant must show “a plan that reasonably shows that the plant, when functioning properly, of preventing odors of marijuana from being detected by a person of ordinary sense of smell beyond the boundary of the parcel on which the facility is located.”

Bova said he had visited two similar facilities, one in Albion, Illinois, and one in Anna, Illinois.

He said driving past, he smelled no odor and that at 100 feet he smelled “no odor whatsoever.”  He did detect a slight odor at about 25 feet or so.

He said he checked with state and local officials and found that no complaints had been lodged at either location.

He said he did speak to a neighbor of the Albion plant who said that  perhaps three or four times over the last few years, a skunk-like smell could be detected for about 15 minutes at a time.

Kertz and David Rosen spoke about their facility and why Ste. Genevieve was chosen.

Kertz is buying the 9.5-acre lot for $1,136,819 and will lease it to Vapen MJ, a firm in which he is an investor. Rosen oversees plant operations for the firm, which has new operations planned in several states.

Kertz said he knew it would be more difficult to get permission in a small community like Ste. Genevieve.

“I felt like Ste. Genevieve has been depleted of enterprise for a long time and one of the things we have is that we have farming and manufacturing,” he said. “That’s two things that fall in line with the  community already.”

He said up to 500 jobs could eventually be created if Missouri allows recreational marijuana and called the business “a good fit for the community.”

See complete story in the September 11 edition of the Herald.